Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where's the Gaffers Tape?

Been a little busy the last few weeks. 

My husband, Mark, has been working on a film for the last two and a half years, Finding Hope Now, in addition to his regular day job.  Most of that time he has spent working the day job then going straight to work on the film for another 8 to 10 hours at  ""the studio."    By the time he would finish working on the film at night there was no way he could have been safe to drive the hour plus it takes to get from the studio to our home in the foothills. So, we decided, all week he would sleep in a recliner, at the studio.  Then on Saturday afternoon he would come home and be home until Monday morning when he would head to work to start all over again.

This has been our life and routine for the last 2 years since the movie finished filming at the end of June 2009.

Now that the presentation cut of the movie is done, in the hands of those who will sell it, and is already winning awards at film festivals it was time to move the operation back to our home. Time to set up a home office to finish the details on the visual effects.

This physical transition started a couple weeks ago and has required a lot of help.  We needed to move every item in the living room/classroom so that we could accommodate an office space.  Moving stuff, sorting stuff, throwing out stuff, cleaning stuff all take a great deal of focus.  On a good day, when everyone is medicated, I am not sure we could hit that mark.

But the physical transition is nothing compared to the mental and emotional transition.  

In the last couple weeks we have mixed our exhaustion from this long hard two and a half years with anticipation, excitement, anxiety, and a whole lot of ADHD.  We have hit on just about every ADD/ADHD nerve in one way or another.

I have noticed a few things during my 20 years of marriage to my husband and his ADHD.  Transitions are hard.  He puts all his heart, soul, and hyper-focus into a project.  He stays driven and fixated and when it ends there is a sense of loss that comes with it.  Even a feeling of being lost.

Mark is a very positive person.  He can maintain that positive attitude through experiences that seem too dark and dreary for me.  When a project ends, however, it is a totally different ball game.  That is the time he is most vulnerable to depression.  This is true even when he is heading right into another project.

The process of coming down off these intense emotions, fixations, urgency, and hyper-focus of a project is like plunging into deep water off the edge of a cliff.  There is a moment, near the bottom, where you are trying desperately to find which direction is up, you are hungry for air, you may even think you are going to drown.  I have seen it repeatedly.  Enough to know that he always finds his way.  Enough to remind him of all the other times he felt the same way.  Enough for him to recognize that it is happening.

I do not believe that even knowing it's coming will keep it from happening.  It is how his brain is wired, how it chemically functions.  The most important thing that years of similar experiences has taught him is to watch for it so he can curb the experience a little.

Finding Hope Now is the longest personal project he has ever done.  The longest he has had to maintain those intense emotions to finish a project.  It's also not completely finished.  It is transition of stages.  While the bulk is finished, the presentation cut, as they call it, the details are still being worked on.  This is a good thing.  If everything were to change at once it would be a much harder.  As it stands he can focus on the beginning of the transition while preparing for the rest of it.

First, we had to deal with moving the studio home.  The studio was quiet, almost silent, and solitary.  In our house quiet and solitary are two things we have heard of but are not really convinced exist.  The first day he was home was so over stimulating that when one of the kids indicated that we might be short on butter for dinner he jumped at the chance to drive to the nearest store, a half an hour away, to get some.  He just needed to get out and clear the slate a little before he got too overwhelmed.  The last thing he wanted to do was lose his temper or tell everybody, "I have to leave for a little while."

He worries that we might think he prefers the quiet solitude of the studio to being home.  He feels guilty that he gets overwhelmed and needs a break from the excited, frenzied energy that radiates here.  He would prefer to be home; but, he does have to get used to coping with the over stimulating environment.

To add to it all the kids are transitioning too.  They are so excited and happy to have him here every night.  It is, however, a little surreal after his absence the last couple years.  He can't move with out someone jumping to ask, "Where are you going?"  Poor guy can't change his clothes after work or go to the bathroom without the third degree.

It reminds me of a time when the kids were smaller.  He had been working a lot of overtime, in order to spend time with the kids before they went to bed he would come home for dinner and then go back to work.  One night he fell asleep on the living room floor.  Those little darlings tied his arms and legs up with his neck ties so he couldn't get away.  He slept through the whole thing.   He was a little shocked when he woke up.  If I were him I would be a little worried, they're all older now and he has taught them the usefulness of gaffers tape.

We talked on the way to go get butter, that first night back.  We decided that documenting his journey, our journey through this transition would be good to post on the blog.  Most of the time I'm focused on raising our ADHD brood but truth is, it effects our home from all angles.  All of these kids will grow up to be adults with ADHD.  Their struggles will change as the demands of the adult world take over.  They will need the experience of others, especially their father, to help them avoid the pitfalls, anticipate the cliffs, and deep water.

I have to admit I am feeling a little possessive too.  That week of him being home passed too quickly and rolled right into his trip to Houston, Texas for the Houston WorldFest International Film Festival.  It was hard for everyone to let him go after we just moved the office back home.  It was a successful trip though, he came home exhausted and passed out asleep in his chair.

I have one question,  where's that gaffers tape?

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