Do you want to know what having executive function looks like?
It’s getting ready to go to the grocery store (on my bicycle, it’s a local store) and realising it’s dark out. It’s making the connection between “it’s dark out” and bicycle lights. It’s remembering that the last time I rode my bike, the batteries in the red light on the back were nearly dead. It’s walking back into the living room to get the spare batteries from the big fruit bowl, and putting them in the bicycle light. It’s putting the dead batteries in my coat pocket. It’s remembering the dead batteries are in my coat pocket as I enter the grocery store. It’s walking to the recycling bin and dropping the batteries in.
It’s not crisscrossing the grocery store trying to think of everything I need to buy, because I didn’t bother making a list. A little executive function fail there. But let’s go on.
It’s heading towards the checkout lane with a basket full of food, and stopping to pick up extra batteries. It’s putting the new batteries in the big fruit bowl when I get home. It’s throwing the old empty packaging in the bin.
All my life, I wondered why things that other people claimed were so simple, for me were so incredibly hard to do. I thought I was making a fuss over nothing. I thought I was being lazy. I thought I was procrastinating. But this little scenario? Can I honestly say that NOT doing all of this would have been procrastination? Laziness? Making a fuss over nothing?
Seriously. I can think of far more interesting things to procrastinate on. I can think of far more efficient ways to be gloriously lazy.
This little scenario. Most people probably wouldn’t understand why I’m even mentioning it. Because they don’t even think about it. It’s normal for them. It’s how they live their lives. But me? If you had told me a month ago that I’d be capable of doing this, I would have laughed at you. I had spent 37 years trying to learn how to do this, and I knew I’d failed. This was not something I was capable of.
Had my third diagnostic interview today, some hopeful things, some sobering realisations, will write more about that soon. Need to write about something else for a minute.
Like I’m running a marathon.
(Although honestly, I have no idea what that feels like.)
Constantly out of breath.
Heart beating in my throat.
Muscle pain in my thigh from unaccustomed stimming.
Meaning I’m jiggling my left leg non-stop now.
Dealing with people and sounds and lights is becoming more impossible by the day. I’m getting to the point where a trip to the supermarket leaves me gasping for breath for 10 minutes afterwards.
“Anxiety is a common side effect of giving up smoking.”
Is inability to function a common side effect as well?
It’s been two weeks since I quit. Hoping this gets better. Very soon.
I didn’t know Louis Theroux had done a documentary on this subject: young children who get put on drugs for mental disorders. I have to admit I’m sort of scared to watch it, because either Louis Theroux is going to agree with the parents and take a huge fall off the pedestal I’ve put him on, or he’s not going to agree with the parents but it’s all going to be hopeless anyway as long as we keep seeing these children as problems who aren’t trying hard enough to fit in.
(I watched the first 5 minutes and so far I’ve already spotted the first professional saying of a 10 year old autistic boy that he’s improved so much because he makes more eye contact now. Seriously. Out of all the issues to focus on).
Update: since posting this, I have to admit I’ve adjusted my opinion on this issue. Yes, I still think people medicate too quickly and for reasons that have nothing to do with the kid’s wellbeing and everything to do with the world this kid is supposed to live in. The documentary gives a few poignant examples of that.
However, on the other end of the spectrum are kids like Charlie. Charlie feels better on meds. After reading his story and the way his parents have tried so hard to get him off meds, I have to say that yes, this sounds like a good solution for him (of course I don’t know him personally and I am not his therapist, but the story describes very clearly how Charlie’s wishes on the matter were listened to and taken into account).
So that means I was wrong to judge so harshly. I encourage you to read the blog at Outrunning the Storm and to watch the video here and make up your own mind. My opinion on the matter is not really that important. The important thing is to keep trying and keep questioning and never accept someone else’s ideas as a matter of fact UNLESS THEY ARE THE ONES AFFECTED BY THAT IDEA. That is all.