Category Archives: adhd

willful, wanna, willing

black and white photo, close up of  top half of a woman's face. Light complexion with curling bangs and a small bun.
disobedient bangs

I am a hair and shoes person. Before I was tuned in to how problematic it can be to offer unsolicited comments about a person’s appearance, I was generous with compliments (yeah that is an ugh sentence but I am not going to try to fix it otherwise I’ll just get stuck). On the bus, “sharp hair cut!” at the store, “love those shoes!”

figured hair and shoes are less fraught. OK this is not what I was intending to write about. I do want to do a hair and shoe piece but not tonight

I wanted to write about the well worn topic of behavior, self regulation, discipline, whatever we are calling the whole “do the thing you said you were going to do” skill. And I thought to use my new bangs as a symbol of defiance. Just a little hook. Here I am 30 minutes in to writing (including farting around with a photo) and again I’m stuck on the tarmac and my thoughts are already fading into a dot in the sky.

failing to board the plane is appropriate to the topic of self regulation I guess. does that even make sense? am I supposed to be passenger or pilot?

I’m vexed that I so frequently retreat to this comfy meta self aware digressive mode of writing.

It’s fake productivity. Avoidance. Splashing around in the shallow end.

OK so what was on my mind earlier?

DBT therapy uses willfulness and willingness to frame our approach to behavior. Willful is on the negative side, where we are obstinate, rigid, resistant, etc. I call it my inner 3 year old. Willingness is well, self explanatory. Even if you are a hot mess, you can still choose to be open, flexible. Halfway smiling. Not toxic positivity. Just not doubling down on negativity.

(This is a gross simplification which is why I get all fretful about writing.)

The point is that I wonder where “wanna” fits it.

The toddler stomps. I don’t wanna behave and *you* can’t make me!

The adult stomps. I wanna behave so why can’t *I * make me?

I don’t want to be willful. I wanna be willing. I guess that’s what all the skills are for, sly ways to move us into willingness.

But so much of my willfulness is due to lack of urgency and immediacy. I have two speeds, sloth and super hero. I need to save embers from the fires I put out to keep me warm and limber for the less dramatic days.

This is apparently a classic ADHD trait. Insert recognition that many most all folks drag their feet sometimes (hence my imposter syndrome). However, there are degrees of severity and whether it’s due to adhd or something else, *egads * I have a serious Jekyll Hyde situation when it comes to productivity.

I have written versions of this so many times. So frustrating.


Had a successful rabbit hole visit earlier today. Was trying to clean up how I categorize these posts and could not figure out how to do batch edits. Although I am not a tech whiz, I can be tenacious about finding short cuts. If I think there’s a better way to do something, someone else has probably already solved the problem. After exhausting the right click options (kind of like looking under the sofa cushions), throwing key words at the search bar (because I don’t know how to describe what I am looking for), I hop around reddit and user forums until I discover a solution or that I am not alone in wishing for one. When a solution requires going deeper under the hood than I am comfortable with, I back away carefully and decide maybe my “problem” isn’t so bad.

Sometimes these searches exceed their original purpose (because ooo that article looks interesting) and derail me from the original task.

Today’s research detour didn’t shake my focus but egads my struggle with the task of organizing my writing is pretty much the story of my life. So much overlap! What about parallelism? Gah, I don’t like that phrasing. I get so easily tangled before leaving the gate, like my shoes are tied together.

I wasn’t even planning on devoting a long paragraph to tech sleuthing.

I know that being a lateral?, digressive?, nuanced? meta? indecisive? thinker has benefits too but blargh I am a little demoralized right now and need to transition to another project that’s much more important than how to categorize this blog post. So. . . I guess that’s it for today.

screen shot showing a section of this blog's organizational hierarchy

Ms. Harper’s Dunes

Went on a very long walk in the Indiana Dunes. This place always bring me back to high school biology. Hopeful, futureful days.

Rapid ecological progression.  From forest to sand in a short span of space. 0 to 60 vps (vegetation per step).

sand dune with trees sloping to a beach with gentle waves.
The Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan

If I could have a do-over,  biologist would be at the top of the career list. But I’m not sure I am organized and disciplined enough to be a scientist. (I’m not sure why I think those are key requirements.)

For my teaching degree, I chose elementary education over high school because I wanted to keep my fingers in all subjects. Everything is connected. Maybe too connected. My popcorn brain compelled some kids and confounded others. 

My guiding light was Ms. Harper, my freshman and then AP Bio teacher. She kept the life in biology. Organized loads of experiments, brought us into the minds of scientists, gave us the big picture which made it easier to fill in and remember the details. Her assignments helped me break through as a writer. I knew about the power of content area writing long before my M.Ed.

And she brought us to the Dunes, adding texture and wonder to what had simply been the big beach just outside of Chicago we visited once a year. Those trips had been about sandbars, sunburns and corn dogs. Eyes on the water, not the ecological marvel behind us.

photo of informational of a poster that provides an overview of ecological progression
From a poster at the Dunes Visitor Center. Here’s a National Park Service Video:

I hope all kids have a few Ms. Harpers. School can be a miserable slog, more so for some types of brains and personalities than others. I didn’t know know about neurodiversity. Just thought I was a lazy kid not living up to her potential while at the same time being quick to challenge teachers. (I owe some apologies though PITA kids are part of the job description.).

Ms. Harper and a few other teachers somehow made me feel whole as a student, like I belonged with the “smart” kids even though I could never get my work done on time and my writing was an overambitious mess. They were nimble, patient, and rewarded curiosity.

water with a thin layer of ice with  faint heart pattern in front of a bank with brown grass and bare trees
see the heart?

I tried to emulate those qualities as a teacher but always felt like I came up short. Ugh the teaching part of my professional life is tender territory. I am tempted to write about why I was no good. That I knew content more than I knew kids.  Sucked at making cute bulliten boards.  Struggled to turn my daily attendance in on time

But when I force myself to take a break from the “wah wah wah I failed” song, I remember teaching moments that would have made Ms. Harper (and Ms. Shelton, Ms. Tarta, Mr. Viktora…) proud.

Well, this is not at all the direction I thought I would go. Taking a hike in the Dunes gets the brain moving I guess. I know I’ll keep returning to my lives as a student and a teacher as I move towards healing by 50. Also, go Kenwood Broncos.

a tree stump almost in the shape of a heart surrounded by dead leaves.


woman lying on a radiator with a black dog standing with paws in her back both looking out a window
Best seat in the house during winter.

I am not starting off this whole countdown with much gusto. The torpor is strong. Almost to the point of defiance.

I do have some excuses explanations.

  • emotionally drained from some personal “stuff”
  • feeling uncomfortable in my body
  • inaction begeting inaction
  • it’s cold and dreary
  • perimenopause
  • dumpster fires on the world stage
  • I didn’t take my adhd rx today

I’ve been wondering if I should explore medication adjustments. Some tweaks (plus the IOP) last summer pulled me from the bottom of the barrel level of depression, but I’m kind of just limping along. More like limping in place.

I’ve always struggled with “task initiation” (ie getting off my ass to start a task). I now realize this doesn’t make me a horrible lazy person. I work my ass off once I get rolling. Plus, productivity does not determine worth anyway (such a hard mindset to maintain).

When I was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago, a lot of my ways of moving through time and tasks started to make more sense. Adding a stimulant to my Rx mix sparked an immediate improvement in my ability to buckle in. It also helped with mood.

There’s a lot of imposter syndrome with ADHD especially lately.

OK so I started writing this midday and could barely keep my eyes open. Crashed after imposter syndrome and was totally under for 30 minutes until I heard an alarm from our neighbors upstairs that turned out to be inches from my head. I think I even drooled.

Back to adhd rx. (I’ll deal with imposter syndrome later.) Lately I’ve been wondering if I get much benefit from the medication so I decided to take a day off here and there to see if I notice anything. I forgot today was my first day off until I started writing about my inertia. Then I napped which I never do. And I was an emotional wreck this afternoon. I had fine reasons to be upset but I could have done without the jagged sobs as I biked home.

Now it’s only 1030 and all I want to do is sleep. I’ll be taking the adhd rx tomorrow for sure.