Wrinkles in Time

As I have said previously, I suffer from more than one mental illness and I have cerebral palsy. I have also said that in my reading, I have learned that cerebral palsy can create mental illness, so my physical and mental maladies are most probably related…. and always have been, because my CP was caused by what doctors call “insults in the delivery room.” To me, “insults in the delivery room” is a really nice way of saying “we fucked up.” And they did, but my mom & dad were too nice to sue. I was joking with a friend a few weeks ago that the only reason I wish they had is that the hospital should at least have to pay for all my ibuprofen. 😛

Mentally, I know that it is at least a chemical imbalance even if it’s not CP-related, because there is nothing in my history that would have created these illnesses situationally. Even my emotional abuse as a teenager wasn’t the cause. I was depressed and anxious long before that, as well as clearly ADHD by the way my IQ and my grades were inversely proportional.

As with all ADHD kids, it’s not about IQ. It’s that they can rarely handle things like remembering to turn in assignments on time, take coherent notes so that they make sense later, and create habits to make it better. I mean, I bought every single school supply I thought would help and had amazing ideas for organization. But I couldn’t stick to them for more than a week. I had so many calenders that were “Anal Annie” organzed when they started and the rest completely blank.

The “taking coherent notes” part was particularly challenging for me, because in classes like Language Arts and Reading, I was much better at sitting there and listening, later able to remember with excellent recall what had been said… but my teachers couldn’t stand that I wasn’t writing anything down, thus actually hindering learning. I could not multitask listening and writing at the same time, a disaster in math because not only could I not do two things at once, I didn’t understand what was being said, so even if I did have excellent recall, it didn’t translate into “being able to solve my own problems” (little math haha for you there).

By the time I got to college, I could type as fast as I could think. Instead of trying to decide what was important, I transcribed every lecture. That way, I wasn’t really multitasking. I was writing, and then I would “go to class” later when I was reading the transcription.

Believe me when I say that this was only successful because I type between 75-80 wpm, and 100 on a very good day. You can’t do what I did if you type slower than that, because you might be able to ask a college professor to repeat something once, but not constantly.

In terms of depression and anxiety, I remember clearly the summer between fourth and fifth grade that I was chastised mightily by both parents for sleeping all day and hardly ever putting on real clothes. I’m not sure whether they knew I was depressed, or whether they thought I was acting typically for a person my age during school vacation. As a future fifth-grader, I didn’t know words like “depression.” I just knew I didn’t feel good a hundred percent of the time. I resented the hell out of literally being dragged out of bed and into real clothes, going to the library or whatever else it was that was planned for me that day. I was okay once I got there, but the will to go was non-existent.

What I Know for Sure™ is that when I am on a down, as an adult I have exactly the same symptoms. I can and do keep all the appointments in which my presence is required. With anything that is optional, I am usually in bed…. sleeping not because I am tired, but to escape. It is the easiest way for me to receive peace. In fact, I am generally not asleep in the classic sense, but wandering through my subconscience, trying to work out whatever it is that’s setting me off.

So, to put it mildly, emotional abuse didn’t cause my mental illnesses, just heightened my reaction to it. For people with mental illness, especially ADHD (I am not hyperactive, but the DSM does not differentiate anymore), sensory perception is higher than it is for neurotypicals, often to a large degree. What might have been contained in a fireplace burned down a forest.

But if I had to pick an absolute worst part of being so neurologically atypical, it would be my relationship with time. The only thing I remember with startling clarity is how long it’s been since my mother died. Everything else is malleable. It’s lucky that I was born in Texas, because I learned early that “the other day” will cover a multitude of sins. In Texas, “the other day” could have been last week or 20 years ago.

It’s not that I can’t remember dates by rote memorization. It is “how long has it been?” or “how long in the future is that?” My memories seem to be organized by how much I think about them. If something touched me/cut me deeply, it feels closer. If it wasn’t that important, it’s further away. I can easily mistake something that happened years ago for something that happened last week, and vice versa.

Things also change places in the Z-axis of my mind. If I haven’t thought about something in a while, it goes further back. Then, the memory pops back up and all of the sudden it’s like it happened yesterday.

That is the main reason I think I will never truly get over some of the things that have happened in my life, whether it was by my own hand or someone else’s. Some days, hurt is so far away, and some days, it is extremely loud and incredibly close.

Joy works the same way. Sometimes things that have made me over-the-top happy seem like it was just yesterday, when in reality, it was years ago. I am grateful for social media in this respect, because my Facebook posts and shares are all timestamped, as well as my blog entries. Timestamps are the one indelible thing that help me understand linear time.

The rest is just wrinkled.

1320

The title of this post is the time I’m starting it. It’s amazing to me that I have until 1630 to leave the house, and I’m already chomping at the bit. COME ON! GET HERE FASTER! I’m not so good with the waiting. There’s a thousand things I could do in the meantime, but I’m also not good at keeping track of time. If I start a Project,™ like cleaning my room or organizing the directory system on my computer so that my photos from the last eight years aren’t all in the same folder, I run a great risk of forgetting…. “oh, hey. There’s work today.” I tend to underestimate how long things are going to take, and I don’t have a clock running in my head. Therefore, I have no idea when four hours have passed. When I’m writing, I have a fighting chance because I glance at the clock on my computer or tablet frequently.

I can hear you saying, “why don’t you just set alarms on your phone?” Because when I’m in the middle of something, the alarm goes off and I think, “I’m only five minutes from being done,” which is always a wild stretch of the imagination. It took me a long time to realize this about myself, which I mostly learned from being married to “the late Mrs. Lanagan.” I swear to Christ she would still be eating Cheerios in the bathtub 20 minutes before we had to be somewhere and I would just be sitting white-knuckled in the living room thinking, we should have left already. God almighty….

It was a true A-ha! moment when I realized I actually am good at showing up on time to things, but I have to pay attention. As someone with ADHD, I have to make allowances for the way my brain works, and do my best not to get distracted.

Especially as a people-pleaser, it embarrasses me beyond belief to be late, because even though I don’t take it personally when other people are late to meet me, or even a few minutes late to begin a shift, I’m worried that the other person will. My lateness is not a reflection of how important they are to me, but who I am as a person. So many people take lack of punctuality personally, as if I don’t know I’m wasting their time and am sick over it, because my respect for them wasn’t the issue here, Dude. I was on my way and “oh look, a chicken.” So, I go out of my way to try and ignore all distractions.

As a result, a lot in my life goes by the wayside, but I’m always on top of the things that really matter…. and by that I mean at some point I should hire a housekeeper. My living expenses are low and my hourly rate is high (for a cook, anyway), so perhaps if I truly get 40 hours a week it’s not inconceivable. Here’s the problem with that, though. If I get 40 hours in a week, my income will be too high for state-run insurance, and I’m not sure whether my employer provides it or not. So what I could have spent on paying someone to get my shit together, literally, will be going to the healthcare marketplace. I am not one of those people that can go without insurance and hope for the best…. most of the time, anyway. For a while, I didn’t have insurance in Portland, and it worked out okay because I was taking all generic medications on the $4 formulary at Wal-Mart, and everything else was covered by worker’s compensation. As a cook, it was 95% more likely that I’d get injured rather than sick…. and in the odd case when I was sick, it was cheaper to go to “Doc in the Box” (called ZoomCare in PDX) than it was to pay for insurance every month.

It’s been nice not to have to worry about any of that stuff since. It will be a load off my mind when the US finally goes to universal health care, because I think in my lifetime, it will. Otherwise, it will be time to formulate a plan to expatriate. There’s a reason there’s 17,000 gringos in Ensenada, Mexico…. although I think I’d have more fun eating in Oaxaca, and if my knees aren’t shot by then, taking a whirl in a Mexican kitchen just long enough to steal all the recipes for home use.

It’s 1408 now. Time for a coffee nap. This means loading up on caffeine so that when I wake up, I am ready to take on the world, one order of chicken tenders at a time.