The Mini-Reunion (part two)

CBG - 90sOver the next ten years (i.e. the 90’s), I went through a ton of ups and downs. I flunked out of two different universities before graduating both community college (top of the class, baby!) and university (with a BComm) in 1998. I worked at my dad’s restaurant part time, as a DJ on weekends, and as a bartender part time while going to school full time. I remained the same guy for the most part…slightly cocky and arrogant, going from short-term relationship to short-term relationship because (a) I felt that it would make me look “cool” in the eyes of my friends, (b) my ADHD prevented me from committing to pretty much anything long-term, and (c) my insecurities would be temporarily fulfilled if I had a woman find me attractive…either emotionally or physically.

I did things and made mistakes that followed me around the small town. Women I slept with, things I had said, and the stupid things I had done had caught up to me. I had a “reputation”. It was at this point I decided that not only did I have to work outside of the town, but I had to leave it entirely.

MonctonI moved to Moncton, New Brunswick in 2001 and remained there until moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia to be with my incredible wife almost four years ago. In Moncton, I became relatively anonymous. I finally matured a bit and grew into a pretty decent person. Of course, a combination of depression and Adult ADHD meant that I still had my fair share of issues…and I’m sure there are people who I worked with over the years who think I’m an asshole. But I was able to move on and just find out who I was as a person (a failed marriage can do that to a guy).

When this happened, though, I stopped going back home to visit my friends. I felt shame and was embarrassed not only of the person I used to be, but as the person I was at the time. I was working in a call center to make ends meet. The last time I really got together with “the boys” was my bachelor party. Then three of my best friends (two of whom are brothers) were my groomsmen. I thought, at the time, that I finally had what I always wanted.

CBG - mid-00sOf course, the marriage ended quickly for a myriad of reasons. I remember going back to my best friend’s place on a Saturday night back in 2008 to tell him we were splitting up. Instead of my best friend having my back, he berated me. He told me how stupid I was for this mistake and that he couldn’t believe I was doing this.

I never told him how that night made me feel, but needless to say our friendship has pretty much disappeared in the years since. I think the last time I saw him was at my mother’s funeral five years ago. His wife has since “unfriended” me on Facebook, presumably in an effort to clean-up account because she didn’t consider us friends anymore.

Mini ReunionI’ve seen some friends here and there over the years. I’ve seen most of them on Facebook, though. I guess in this day and age, there really isn’t any reason to have a High School Reunion in person when you can see all of your friends online. But still…when the invitation popped up in my inbox to attend a friends-only “Mini Reunion”, I jumped at the chance.

I feel like I’m finally in a point in my life where I’m not embarrassed or ashamed anymore of who I am or what I used to do. I have no doubt that some of the people attending the party (and even the person who actually extended the invitation to me) remember me as that arrogant jerk from high school who they put up with because I was friends with so many people. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to being able to meet them in person and show them the man that I’ve become.

CBGI’ve got the greatest wife I could have ever dreamed of. I’ve finally got a job that not only pays well and has “manager” attached to the title, but is at a company that makes me feel proud to work there. I’ve got three incredible children of my own and two amazing step-daughters who I consider my own children. I rarely drink and even when I do, I have a few beer and don’t get “out of control” like I used to do. The man I am today is NOT the man I was 20 years ago. I don’t have the self-esteem issues that I used to have…and that has helped me become the best “me” I could possibly be.

VyvanseMost importantly, I’ve got my depression under control and take medication for my Adult ADHD. I’m not going to say that my ADHD medication is a “miracle drug” or anything, but just ask my wife…Vyvanse has changed my life for the better. On a daily basis, I feel like the man I was always supposed to be…and I can’t wait for my friends to see me now.

Will I reconnect with my best friend? Will I reconnect with people that I will want to continue to see on a regular basis? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m going to have a great time catching up and being ‘me’. The universe will then decide what’s next.

The Mini-Reunion (part one)

I moved around quite a bit as a child. My dad worked in the banking industry and, back in the day, when you moved up it also meant that you moved on. I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and lived in Cape Breton for a bit until moving to Windsor, Nova Scotia. Dad then became a branch manager and we all moved to New Minas, Nova Scotia until I was in Grade 3. We then picked up and moved to Saint John, New Brunswick until I was in Grade 5. Then I
moved one last time to Amherst, Nova Scotia (population 9,000) when Grade 6 started (waaaaay back in 1983). AmherstIt was here that my family finally set-up roots, dad opened up a pizza restaurant, and it became the place I called home for the next 15+ years.


Christmas ChoirIt was also here that I began to make friends. We ended up moving (AGAIN!!!) from one part of town to the other about halfway through the school year, so I began to make friends all over again. I gotta be honest, though…I have very vague recollections of this time in my life. There’s one very vivid memory of a Christmas concert where I sang a solo in the school choir, but that’s another story for another time.

Thankfully, the next year was Grade 7: the first experience of a blended school. I got to hang out with the friends I met during the first half of the previous year and the second half of the previous year. I suppose this actually was to my benefit because I wasn’t starting from scratch.

Let me tell you a bit about myself at this point, though. I was a kid who was constantly showing off in school in an effort to get attention. This was due to a few reasons:

  • I barely saw my dad as a kid because he was a workaholic. Our “family time” consisted of meals and television and the occasional vacation. That’s about it. So I was doing what I could to get attention somewhere from somebody.
  • Because we moved around often, I was always having to make new friends. I found that being the “class clown” was the easiest way to make a few friends right out of the gate. But this also meant that I could very easily been seen as a little dickwad by those who didn’t share my sense of humour.
  • I had undiagnosed ADHD (primary inattentive), so it was simply a reaction to my body not acting the way it should have.

CBG and friendsI made a few really good friends over the next few years. Guys who I still consider best friends today even though we barely talk or see each other anymore. It sucks that we drifted apart, but that’s later in the story.

As high school came to a close, I can look back now and (thanks to the numerous video tapes I’ve seen over the past few years) see just how lucky I was to have any friends at all.

Seriously. I look back and see that I was just so damn desperate for attention and acceptance that I had a cocky, arrogant attitude about me. This was a façade, though, as I was probably the most insecure person in the entire school.

Horrible hair…big-ass glasses…a ridiculous sense of “fashion”…and vicious acne issues that earned me the nickname “Pizza Face” for awhile (thanks to that awesome family pizza restaurant…ugh). The insecurities only piled up due to (a) getting picked on and made fun of by those in school who felt as though they were “cool”, (b) constantly getting berated by my father for not ever being good enough or living up to his expectations (an issue that arose because of the ADHD, as I always had “so much potential” that I could never fulfill), and (c) never having a girlfriend throughout high school.

PIZZAHMy first kiss was in sixth grade. My first make-out session was in seventh grade. I think I had a girlfriend for a week in eleventh grade. That was it until graduation. It made for a brutal high school experience on one hand, but I still had some fantastic friends that helped me get through each day. In fact, I ended up not only accepting the “pizza” nickname, but embracing it…even getting a “PIZZAH” license plate for my second car in my high school senior year.

It was in my senior year that I really cemented most of my friendships. I was still a goofy, nerdy, arrogant show-off, but my real friends either put up with it or saw through it. There was a good number of us who graduated being close friends…something I never thought would change or end.

I was wrong.

Never Stop Trying

I’m trying…I really am.

The past couple of years haven’t been the easiest for my wife and me. I moved here and we got married and then things became a lot more difficult than I thought they would be. As we approach our third anniversary in August, I’m trying to stop constantly falling back after taking a couple of steps forward.

Y’see, it started out with me losing my job due to the economy back in late 2013. We were newly married and flying high, but the housing market crashed and I had to look for something as my job was directly related to housing and real estate. Then I began working WITH Sunshine at her office in a job that was supposed to be the best thing to ever happen to me.

More money…more responsibilities…more hours. Yes, Sunshine and I saw each other on a daily basis but never really got tired of one another because we didn’t working together in the office. So in that regard, it worked out great.

However, I was going through something that would end up hurting us both.

As I wrote about at the time, I was diagnosed with having Major Depressive Disorder…which began to explain a LOT of things wrong with me. I began taking medication and immediately noticed a difference. Unfortunately, the biggest side effect is how it affects one’s ability to perform intimately. This began to affect my psyche and, in turn, affect hers. Without going into a lot of detail, you can only imagine what it’s like for a newly married couple who cannot be intimate with one another nearly as much as they used to due to medical reasons.

It sucks and it’s tough on her because she can’t help but take it personally. It sucks for me because I’ve always been a very physical person in a relationship…but for the most part, certain parts of the machine aren’t working with the rest of them…so it’s really tough for each of us because then intimacy becomes something we need to plan out or even becomes WORK for us. That’s been tough to work through in our marriage.

Then Sunshine helped me get diagnosed with having Adult ADHD (primarily inattentive) about a year ago. At this point, I had been making so many mistakes at work that they were on the verge of letting me go. I wasn’t happy and was taking everything personally…not realizing that I wasn’t, in fact, a loser but simply someone who needed to have a slight chemical change in order to function “normally”.

Unfortunately, I was only three weeks into my medication for ADHD when they let me go. They were kind enough to say “it wasn’t a good fit” but I know that my mistakes and errors in judgment caused them to make the tough decision. I harbour no ill will against them, either. I realize that they had to let me go and, looking back, it WASN’T a good fit. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about, either. Sometimes the company you work for and the people you work with just aren’t a good fit for you or your skillset/personality.

Nine months I sat at home looking for the right fit. NINE MONTHS. During this time, I went through some extreme highs and lows with my motivation in life. For a few months I was running regularly and losing weight and feeling confident about my future. For a few months I sat on the couch, gained back all of the weight by eating and not exercising, and then feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t find a good job. This cycle happened more than once, too.

And during this entire time, I wasn’t “there” for my wife. I was distant. I wasn’t connecting with her. I mean, I wasn’t mad or upset or yelling at her or anything…but I wasn’t the husband that she married. I tried, but that normally failed after a couple of weeks. This went on for nine months and I can only imagine how tough it’s been on her.

Now I’ve been working at what can only be described as “a dream job” for almost a month now. I’m getting out there at least three times a week for exercise and I’m trying to do ‘little things’ for Sunshine to help her know how much I love her. But it seems that I’m still making mistakes that make our relationship regress a little bit. And the little things I do aren’t being recognized. It’s frustrating to say the least.

I’m not really worried about us, though. I’m concerned, but not worried. We’re soul-mates…of that, I’m certain. We’ve worked too hard and come too far with our relationship to simply call it quits after three years. No…that’s not what is going to happen here, kids.

But things aren’t perfect. And in recognition of that, I’m going to do whatever I can to get us back to the ‘fun couple’ that I know we can be. I know where I’ve failed and what I need to do in order to make my incredibly awesome wife happy in her marriage again. And I plan on working my ass off in order to make that happen. I can only hope that my wife feels the same way, though lately it’s been difficult to tell.

Thankfully, we’re not talking about infidelity or abuse or other things that can shake a relationship to its core. Instead, we’re talking about reconnecting and finding those sparks that are there but have been hidden for way too long. It won’t be easy, but that’s just life.

Marriage isn’t supposed to be easy. Relationships aren’t all rainbows and unicorns. But when you know you’re in the best relationship you’ve ever had in your entire life and you never want to let that go, then you will work as hard as you have to in order to make things work. I’m just hoping that we both feel the same way and can truly do what is needed to make this work.

2016 Resolutions (let’s try this again)

2016_resolutionsYes, it’s another new year and yes…it means that people are throwing out New Year’s Resolutions again. I’ve said in the past that I hate resolutions and I’ve also created some, so I guess it has only really depended on whether or not I felt I had some realistic goals for that particular year.

I’ve got goals in 2016. I’ve got real, attainable goals. So I guess these aren’t as much “resolutions” as they are goals for 2016, but they’re mine and I’m going to conquer them…

  1. WEIGHT LOSS - September 24Reach 200 pounds. I lost over 20 pounds during 2015. Of course, I gained back close to 10 near the end of the year in spite of the fact that I joined a gym in November. I feel confident, though, that it’s absolutely 100% possible to lose another 10-20 pounds during 2016. So this isn’t another “Lose Weight” resolution that doesn’t have any clear goals in place. I’ve got a goal…hit 200lbs before the end of 2016. I feel 99% confident that I can achieve this by year end.
  2. jobDon’t get a job…but get the RIGHT job. After being unemployed for over five months (so far), finding a new job is becoming more and more of a priority. We’re doing okay financially, so trying to find the right job is still something I can take a bit of time with. It’s really important that I find something I will enjoy doing at this point in my life, so I need to stay focused and work my butt off to finally get the career that I can stay at for years to come. Right now, I’m going house-wacky and I let my depression get the better of me in December…so getting out of the house and into a new work environment will be vitally important for me to achieve over the next few months.
  3. Run a half-marathon. I’ve accomplished the running goals that I’ve set for myself in the past. I initially started running two years ago and finished my first “official” 5K on June 21, 2014. I ran my own personal 10K on October 13, 2014. I haven’t really had a running goal since. I mean, I’m now at the point where if I run less than 5K then I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a good workout in, so that’s certainly something. But I want to run a half-marathon. I want to feel like I can accomplish something that I never thought I’d be able to accomplish in a million years. It’s time to test my body and push myself to the limit. Now, I walked a half-marathon on my birthday back in 2013, but walking and running are two completely different things. logo-maritime-race-weekendThe event I want to run is the Maritime Race Weekend taking place on September 17th. It’s scary to think about actually doing this, but I feel like if I put my heart and soul into this, it’s a goal that I can accomplish.
  4. money_issuesSave money. Again…this is one of those “well duh” type resolutions. But this was something both Sunshine and I were actually doing pretty well at before I lost my job last summer. We were on our way to accomplishing some goals and staying on top of things. Now we’re just a little behind and I want to make sure that we get back on track. 
  5. ADHD symbol design isolated on white backgroundContinue going to my ADHD support groups. I went to two meetings this past year, and even though I wasn’t thrilled at sitting inside of a room with some strangers to talk about how messed-up we all were, I left each meeting feeling better about myself and how my progress is coming along. I hope to make the monthly meetings a consistent occurrence for me. I think it’s important for me to continue realizing that I’m not alone with this condition. Lots of practical information about ADD is stored in the brains of those who have the condition, so meeting and talking with other ADHD adults can give me hope, which is really important for my personal growth in 2016.

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So this is my 2016 in a nutshell. What about you???

6 Life Hacks for Adults with ADHD

Every once in awhile, I’ll be contacted by someone who offers to write a post for my blog. Most of the time, the content won’t be relevant at all. Sometimes, it’s extremely relevant. In this case, Vee from My New Well wanted to write about Adult ADHD because her blog promotes health and wellness at every age and the topic is something that very important to me. I hope you enjoy this post and visit her blog.

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Image via Pixabay by anisenior
Image via Pixabay by anisenior

Though it develops in childhood, many people aren’t diagnosed with ADHD until they reach adulthood. Both children and adults with ADHD face challenges in succeeding in school and work, getting along with others, and completing tasks.

ADHD treatment often includes medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two, and the combination of medication and therapy has been the most effective course of treatment. With proper treatment and a concerted effort, people with ADHD successfully manage their symptoms and lead happy, successful lives.

That said, there’s always room for making life a little easier. Here are a few life hacks for adults with ADHD:

  1. Reduce the clutterTake Control of Your Space. Distractions are all around, and people with ADHD need to take control of their space to limit them. Though this article provides tips for children with ADHD, its advice on reducing the clutter and getting organized in the home are valuable for adults, too. Categorize your items so that you can trash those that you don’t need, store those that aren’t necessary, and organize those that you use daily. Cutting down on clutter will cut down on your distractions and help you feel less overwhelmed.
  1. Food JournalStart a Food Journal. Some foods impact hyperactivity. Log your food intake and behavior, and you may just find a pattern about which foods affect you most. For example, certain additives, caffeine, or sugar may negatively impact your mood or behaviors. Discuss your findings with your doctor and work with them to eliminate harmful foods from your diet.
  1. You are not aloneInvolve Family in Treatment. Relationships are especially difficult for adults with ADHD. Couples counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy are two options for ADHD adults who want to strengthen or repair those relationships. Supportive partners also learn how to help with treatment, and relationship goals often are met more quickly and successfully when ADHD adults involve their family members and partners in the process.
  1. Apple slicesBreak Tasks Into Small Pieces. Rather than overwhelm yourself with large tasks or grow frustrated by an inability to complete or focus on tasks, ADHD adults should break large tasks into small chunks. Add deadlines to each small task piece to hold yourself accountable and to celebrate your success each time you complete a piece. Soon, the pieces will be completed and the whole task will be finished.
  1. Love your dogSpend More Quality Time with Your Pooch. This one might see a little odd, but hear me out! Studies show that our pets are great for our mental health—helping us fend off loneliness and depression with their unconditional love. For people with ADHD, they have these same effects while also providing beneficial opportunities for exercise and helping to establish an at-home routine based on their feeding and potty habits. So, if you’ve been putting off adopting an adorable mutt from your local shelter, now’s the time to do it.
  1. Become a Morning Person. By committing to getting up early, ADHD adults will find that they are able to accomplish more because the majority of people are up at night. You will be able to do what you need to do without distractions from people calling, emailing, or texting you. And, it tends to be quieter in the morning, which also cuts down on the distractions. You also will feel more positive throughout the rest of your day, because you were so productive in the morning.
  1. Apple Silver iPhone 6 Plus showing the home screen with iOS 8.Use the Power of Your Smartphone. Yes, smartphones can be incredibly distracting for people with ADHD. But, if you use it for good instead of evil (aka Facebook, cat videos, etc.), your smartphone will help you become more organized.

Utilize your calendar and set reminders. Use to-do list apps. Take screenshots of passwords. Include pictures of people with their contact information to help you remember their names. Text yourself about the really important things you need to remember so that you see them in your notifications. The possibilities for using your smartphone for remembering information and for staying on top of deadlines and tasks are nearly limitless.

If you make an effort to live successfully with your ADHD, involve your family and friends, and utilize the resources at your disposal, you will have a much easier time dealing with the condition. And of course, adopting these life hacks is a step in the right direction.

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Vee Cecil is a Kentucky born and bred wellness coach and personal trainer. She is passionate about all things health-related and keeping others informed on personal wellbeing. She regularly shares her findings on wellness on her recently-launched blog.

 

Everything Is Awesome

Enthusiastic ParkerI’ll be the first to admit that since bumping up my medication for Adult ADHD (Vyvanse) to 60mg/day, I have noticed a few changes. Heck, I’ve noticed changes since I began taking the meds two months ago. But sometimes I wonder if it’s all just a placebo effect and I’m just fooling myself.

So I asked my awesome wife, Sunshine, to give me five things that she has noticed about me that is different from a few weeks ago; good or bad.  Where she knows me better than anyone, it only makes sense that she give her opinion on my behaviour recently.

This is what she had to say…

  1. Optimism & positivity. Not that you were ever a really negative person before, but in the past month or so you’ve been way more positive about life despite the great deal of uncertainty we’ve been facing recently.

This is one of the things that Sunshine makes fun of me about. She says I’m sometimes like the Alec Baldwin character from Friends, “Enthusiastic Parker”:

I can’t really explain it, but I’m just seeing the world in a slightly different light. Things aren’t as bad as they seem, even if they really are. And don’t let it seem like I’m trying to sugarcoat anything, either: we have a TON of uncertainty going on in our lives right now. I’m just honestly feeling very positive about where we will end up and how we will get there.

  1. Big reduction in procrastination. In the past you would put things off, lacking the motivation to just get things done. You’re much more willing to just tackle things without putting them off until “later”.

I feel like I’m still procrastinating a little bit, though. Maybe I’m not NEARLY as bad as I used to be, but I would always feel like I could get it done later. Lately it’s been a matter of WANTING to get things done. Or if I procrastinate about doing something and I’m late to get it completed, I’ll feel guilty about it and want to finish as soon as possible (ex: laundry, dishes, mowing the lawn, etc.) whereas before I would simply “meh” it away and do it whenever.

  1. Mood.Your mood is much more even in that you don’t get frustrated nearly as easily as you used to. A perfect example of this is the other day (when we were) at Point Pleasant Park, when your phone wasn’t working. You fiddled with it a bit, apologized (for) not being 100% “present”, and then eventually put it in your pocket. This was a HUGE shock to me. In the past, you would have gotten extremely frustrated and angry, and it would have put this big black cloud over the whole outing. Not this time…it was just no big deal…you put it away, enjoyed the rest of our walk, and dealt with it afterwards.

I have certainly noticed this, as well. Things that used to frustrate the heck out of me don’t bother me NEARLY as much at this point. However, having said that, I do notice the difference between when I’m on the medication and when I’m off of it. Y’see, Vyvanse is a medication that is supposed to last approximately 10-12 hours (it doesn’t stay in your system), but for me I feel the effects wearing off by late afternoon or early evening. This means that I feel different in the evening and in the morning before I take it. “Different” can be explained as feeling a bit more tense or on edge, so I’m very happy to have a more calming mood when I’m on it.

  1. Enthusiasm for life. You’re way more willing to just get out there and DO things than you have been in the last couple of years. You’re willing to get on board for a lot more things than you’ve ever been…things that you’ve maybe never done before, or never even considered doing (hello COLOURING!). You’re also getting out there and running/walking every single day lately.

Yeah…I’m doing my best to embrace life as best I can. I only have one life and I’ll get out what I put into it, so I really need to start putting in the most I can. I’m 43 next month and I want to ensure that the second half of my life is just as good (if not better) than the first half of my life. I’ve got all the tools in place (an incredible wife and family, my Adult ADHD diagnosed and looked after, and work experience that should help me find the career I’ve always wanted); I just need to take advantage of them in order to make the most of the life I have.

  1. Drastic reduction in junk food consumption!I’m not sure what the reason is for this, if it’s because you were using sugar to get a jolt of energy before, or if you were stuffing down negative feelings with food, but I’ve noticed a huge change in you in this regard. You’re no longer using food in a negative way…yes, you’re still enjoying treats now and again, but it’s not an obsession like it has been in the past (when we were eating ice cream daily…).

Vyvanse is sometimes used to help treat binge eating but is not recommended as a weight loss medication. However, whether it’s because it is actually happening or because I’m using it as a placebo; I’m not sure. What I do know is that I don’t feel as hungry as I used to. I would have cravings for chocolate and need to sneak treats during the day. I would use food as a way to make me feel better about something. I wouldn’t care about the consequences of eating a ton of junk food until the guilt hit me afterwards. Now? Now I see the weight loss from the past month (over 14 pounds at this point) and can see the finish line. I’m not using food to pass the time or cope with stress, so it’s all been a very positive experience for me.

These are all things that I have seen in myself. In terms of a personal sense of change, I feel like I’m able to concentrate a lot better. When my head is down and I’m doing something (whether it’s writing a cover letter or writing a blog), my fingers are going non-stop because I’ve got things that I want to say and I’m not letting outside influencers take my attention away.

It’s literally like a fog has been lifted in my brain, so it’s just up to me to ensure that I take advantage of the situation and make the most of this opportunity. Second chances don’t come around in life very often, so I don’t plan on letting this one pass me by.