(Fail Vlog 6) Breaking the Habit

Disclaimer: Guys, this one’s a doozy of a post. I think it might require some mental preparation on your part. Really. Guys, this post is ~4700 words long. I just wrote a freaking essay.

I’M SO SORRY IT’S SO LONG. As usual, I ramble way too much, and the rambling is probably exacerbated by the fact that I’ve been up  all night. I’m also out of practice, having not vlogged in quite some time. Of course, it only gets worse as the video gets longer! Maybe you should just skip this post. The text/blog portion will be a TL;DR thing anyway. Don’t you like how I speak in run-on sentences? Or if not run-ons, really choppy and stuttered sentences? LOL my voice gets kinda croaky at the end. Wanna see the original take? It’s 2 minutes shorter!

I know that vlogs are supposed to be a kind of standalone thing, but I seem to be unable to just have a vlog by itself. I think it’s only happened once so far. In any case, what with my spectacular speaking abilities, I feel that most of the things I say in the vlog need to be further clarified, or at least more fleshed out.

I’m pretty sure the Batman game was my sister’s, and the Beauty and the Beast one was mine.

So I started with . . . my laptop? After waiting over a month for Lenovo to deliver my laptop, I finally got fed up and canceled my order. Within a week, I found an Asus laptop of similar build and pricing and promptly went to buy it in person from a nearby Microcenter. If you read my last post, you’ll remember that I never really had a chance to play mmos and build online friendships through that. Well, with my new laptop, I’m able to play most of the games that I own. Nightmaren suggested I try Eden Eternal, an mmo that s/he began playing during the summer. After about a week of playing Eden and (for the most part) ignoring the rest of the world, I reached level 40 and grew tired. I’d found a few people with whom I partied with more than once, but they didn’t get on regularly; after a few days of grinding on quests by myself, I stopped logging on regularly also. I kind of feel like MMOs aren’t my style of gaming, but since I’m new to MMO, maybe I just need to give it a second chance. Then again, I’m hesitant because MMOs require time and dedication, and if I focus on MMOs, then I’ll fall behind in my studies. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to prevent, what with the psychiatric appointments and Adderall. I failed to mention it in my second take, but I bought a PS2 bundle off of eBay that came with 2 DDR pads and 4-5 DDR games (and a whole bunch of other games that I don’t really care about). My justification for it was that I could use it to exercise, and since I would have fun playing DDR, I would be more likely to consistently exercise and work my way up to a healthier lifestyle. Well, that hasn’t worked out so far; most of the time, I get the urge to play late at night (10 pm or later), so then I refrain because I don’t want to disturb my downstairs neighbor. Sometimes I wonder if I even have a downstairs neighbor — I’ve never seen anyone enter/exit that apartment, nor seen light filter through their blinds at night. Now I sound like  a stalker. (21:40, took Toto out to go to the restroom and saw that lights were on in the downstairs apartment, so someone does live there. /creeper)

I feel stupid when I take pictures of myself with a normal smile or in a normal pose. So, naturally, I make stupid faces and poses in order to make myself feel less stupid.

In the vlog, I mention that my ex-boyfriend referred me to my psychiatrist. In a past post, I vaguely hinted that my ex and I started dating again. And now we’re not again! Yayyy. I really don’t remember what I said in my vlog and secret vlog regarding this topic, but just to give you the gist: we broke up in October (again), this time more on a mutual note and because, though we enjoy each other’s company, each of us has a peeve that the other can’t/won’t change, which is a big enough peeve to keep us from being compatible as boyfriend/girlfriend. Next item to flesh out is . . . my hair. I think I said all that needed to be said on this topic, but I do have a picture for you to see what my hair looked like with the highlights. And you get to see my “new” glasses! I know they’re pretty hipster-looking, but they’re prescription glasses, and I’ve always liked the look of thick frames. I just didn’t think I could pull it off, and up til now I’ve been getting my glasses solely from my uncle’s business (he’s an optometrist), which has a rather small selection of frames compared to online or even Walmart. Anyway, I got a coupon for a pair of free frames from coastal.com, and their policy is that you can send them back if you don’t like them. Luckily, I like them, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I didn’t notice on the website, but the front corners of the glasses (the silver spots) are math symbols; one is a multiplication sign, the other a division sign. There’s an equal sign on each temple. The color of the highlights looks more reddish in this picture, but the actual color of the dye was fuchsia. I think after a couple of washes the color bled out to this pinkish-red color. The first time I got the highlights (actually, Chris did them for me) was in June, so by the time I (Chris) redid them in August or September, they were pretty faded; however, they faded really prettily, as opposed to some colors/dyes that turn dull or some unflattering shade. Honestly, I liked having the highlights (my parents were of another opinion), but my hair grows too fast for me to really enjoy the look for long. I have to give props to Chris, though. He did the highlights for me both times and was also the one to dye my hair back to a more natural color; I’ve gotten compliments every time.

My mom’s learning how to text! And teaching me Vietnamese at the same time! Lol I referenced Google translate so many times for my responses.

Anyway, that’s enough of my vanity. As promised, I’ve included a screenshot of the text conversation with my mom. Judging by the timestamps, it takes my mom approximately 20 minutes to type out a text. Considering that she’s typing with her pinky (her pinkies are the only fingers with nails short enough to allow for accuracy and precision) and that I only taught her how to use the QWERTY keyboard on Friday night, she’s doing really well! I’m proud of her. And her texts only have one or two typoed words, and that’s just because the android keyboard is trying to predict words for her in English. After some research (sacrificing time that would be better spent doing my bio lab review), I was able to find the Swiftkey Vietnamese Beta (I’ve always used Swiftkey). I haven’t used the Vietnamese keyboard yet (I installed the English language pack also), but hopefully the Vietnamese predictions will be close to conversational Viet. Even if it’s not, as long as you correct it, Swiftkey will learn and adapt to your preference. I hope that it’ll make things easier for my mom when I install it on her phone during Christmas break.

I suggest you stop here and take a break. The following content is a little raw and will probably be heavy going. Sorry for the wall of text.

I really have great parents. I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for their unconditional love and support. Sure, they can be a little overbearing sometimes, but they’re entitled to that, with all the things they’ve had to go through as immigrants. Since I can’t seem to motivate myself to care about my studies or future, my knowledge of the hard work they’ve gone through to support and provide for me (without question) should help guilt me into trying harder. It still might not be enough, though. At the end of my psychiatric appointment, the psychiatrist (we’ll call him Dr. Stein) gave me a sheet with general precautions to take with my psychotropic medication, the bottom half of which had an area where the psychiatrist could write recommendations and instructions for the prescription. Along with a titration plan for the Adderall XR (I just noticed today that it’s extended release), Dr. Stein listed a couple of resources that would give me more information about ADHD and strategies to manage it, in addition to the Adderall. While I haven’t found any strategies that are applicable or new to me, I found articles that discuss ADHD symptoms, some of which I now see I’ve had, but didn’t (or refused) to connect to ADHD. Then again, many ADHD symptoms coincide with other disorders, so I couldn’t (and still can’t) say what it is for sure.

1. Lack of motivation/apathy can reflect impairment of executive functions in the brain. When I went to the campus counselor, she thought my apathy was more a result of dysthymia, a mild form of depression. Again, since many ADHD symptoms coincide with depression, I didn’t question it; besides, most of the tips the counselor gave me could alleviate symptoms for both disorders.

2. Disorganization/messiness: I used to think I was a fairly organized person before college. My locker (and desk in grade school) was always neat and organized. I can’t remember how organized I kept my bedroom, but I do remember multiple sleepless nights where papers were scattered all about as I hastily tried to finish a project that was due the next day.

3. Procrastination: My sister claims she was the queen of procrastination. I have no idea how much she procrastinated, but I know that I’ve procrastinated since at least 5th or 6th grade. I procrastinate on washing dishes, taking out the trash, and doing laundry. You could possibly even say that I procrastinate on showering . . . wow, that’s gross. And, of course, studying. I’ve already spent my whole Sunday working on this blog and researching more about ADHD when I have a bio final tomorrow, haven’t finished the review, have a 5-10 page paper due Tuesday, and a paper and exam on Wednesday. There have been times where I clean in order to avoid studying. Priorities.

4. Problems with memory and forgetfulness, lateness: Now, I’m fairly good at recalling random facts or events from the past, so I didn’t think I had any problems with memory/forgetfulness. I’m decent at remembering plans that I’ve made with someone, but I often forget if an assignment is due in class. Sometimes I help answer the phone when I volunteer at the hospital; usually the person on the other end of the line is calling for a report on a patient. They rattle off their name, their department, the patient’s name, and the doctor’s name, and on average, all I remember is the patient and doctor name. Sometimes a call comes in for a patient needing a bed, in which I’m given the patient’s name, the doctor’s name, and the type of surgery. When put the person on hold and notify one of the nurses, usually they ask for at least one of the other details that I’ve already forgotten. Then they end up getting on the line themselves and asking what the person needs. Uhhh, needless to say, I feel useless at those times. As for lateness, I leave for class with just barely enough time to spare. For church, I’m often a few minutes late. With volunteering, I’ve consistently been 15-20 minutes late, with maybe a 5 minute variance. However, I make sure I stay for the four hours I’ve committed to volunteering. Sometimes I forget to pay bills on time, especially if the due date is more towards the middle of the month, rather than the beginning or end. Rent, bills, assignments, exams — I’ve started utilizing my phone more for giving me reminders, but if they’re not in there, they end up being late, or I remember in a panic close to the deadline and end up scrambling to get things done on time. I have a daily planner, but at best, I look at it once a week, which is on Fridays when I know there’ll be periods of doing nothing and can take the time to plan it out. I might place the planner on my desk to check during the rest of the weekend, but by the time Monday rolls around, it’s usually buried under papers.

5. Restless/fidgety: I’ve always had a tendency to bounce one or both of my legs at some point in time, whether sitting or standing. I didn’t think this was abnormal, having grown up with it, and I’ve noticed other people fidget about the same amount in my classes. I do prefer to stand rather than sit down, but I’m not sure if that is really related. Hmm, I guess pen/pencil twirling and tapping also counts as fidgeting.

In first or second grade, when we started learning fractions, I looked at the board and got really confused because what I saw was y2 instead 1/2. I have no idea when I learned or realized that y2 was actually 1/2. I guess my point with that is perhaps that I was inattentive even way back then (which would make sense, since adult ADHD diagnosis requires that symptoms be present during childhood). I mean, the only way you could make that kind of mistake is if you weren’t paying attention, right?
Yay, awkward wall-of-text break!

6. Losing things: I still don’t think I really lose things, but I guess if I often misplace important things such as my phone or keys, then that’s not exactly normal. I “lost” a pocket knife over a year ago, and only recently found it hiding in my high school calc binder. I really have no idea how my knife ended up in the calc binder — I got my knife after I had already finished taking calc.

7. Drives too fast (reckless?): Guilty. I speed almost everywhere, except on the roads that I know are closely monitored. I can have a lead foot at times, reaching up to 85 mph before checking my speedometer and realizing how fast I’m really going (not as much of an issue for long trips; cruise control is great). I would say I’ve made reckless decisions while driving, but that, for the most part, I’m a defensive driver.

8. Impatient/short tempered/mood swings: I always knew that I had a short temper, but it didn’t occur to me that my lack of anger management was abnormal. I didn’t really see myself as impatient, but when I think about it, there have been many times where I grew impatient because someone was explaining something I already knew, people didn’t fulfill my (high) expectations, or I was asked to repeat myself. As for mood swings, they’re generally from happy or content to super pissed. Rarely is it the other way around. I can remember a couple of times when I’ve gone from content to depressed. I hate driving during the day because I get so impatient with other drivers. A blinker before you start breaking would be nice! Or if I drive on the shoulder to let you pass me on a  two-lane road, how ’bout a flash of your hazard lights to show your appreciation? If you think a wave of your hand will suffice, then maybe you’ve forgotten how tinted your windows are. And why the heck are we slowing down to 20 mph on the highway if there’s no car wreck or construction to avoid? Uhh, so yeahh, my temper has many opportunities to flare when I drive.

9. Impulsiveness: Again, I haven’t really seen myself as a particularly impulsive person, but purchases I’ve made, such as my DS, PSP, Kindle Fire, PS2, teeth whitening gel, Steam games, a sports video camera, navel ring, dog toys, cat toys, my cat Jager, things for knitting and crocheting (that I haven’t touched in months), a Fossil watch, cheap jewelry, a new laundry basket (when the only thing wrong with the old one was that the cat peed on it and I was too lazy to wash it more than once), the Samsung Captivate, pillows — these are all things that I don’t need. Even though I hesitated for some of these things, I was quick to somehow justify the purchase and unable to exercise self control. Even when I go to the store for groceries, I often leave with some item that I don’t need (snacks, a discounted movie, makeup, hair dye, vitamins and supplements I never take). This one’s more of a stretch, but before college even started, I made the dumb decision to take out a student loan that I didn’t need (and I just accepted the loan money in total, rather than only taking “what I needed”) because I had this stupid notion that I’d be able to easily pay it off and use it to build up my credit score. And you know what? It’s only hurt it so far, because for some reason the loan company had my graduation date wrong and had started sending bills sometime during my sophomore year, as well as calling my phone and leaving (automated) voicemails. And instead of calling them straightaway and figuring out what was going on, I let this continue until they sent me a notice saying I had to pay in full by a certain date! And even then I procrastinated. As a result, my credit report has a potentially negative thing on it from me ignoring it and missing payments. What makes me feel even worse is that a majority of what I bought was purchased with my parents’ hard-earned money — money that they gave to me to pay for rent, bills, and food, and here I am just squandering it away. And I can’t stop myself from making those impulsive purchases even though I have all this guilt. So much guilt that I’ve made myself cry.

10. Low self-esteem: I’ve actually only seen this one listed on the webMD ADHD page, but it fits in nicely with my last point. I know that I do care what strangers think of me, even though I know I’ll most likely never see a majority of them again. I tend to take criticism very personally; even if it’s said in a neutral tone or meant to be constructive, my mind interprets it as something against which I need to defend myself. Which may then lead into my anger management issues. If I text or message someone and they don’t reply, I’m prone to feeling ignored or forgotten, even if I’m aware that the person has a busy schedule. I’ll mull over an argument or disagreement for days — wondering if my words were interpreted differently than what I had meant, if I should bring it up again, what exactly the other person meant –even when the other party has long since let the issue go. I try to deal with my problems on my own and hesitate to ask friends for help/advice (in both academics and personal matters) because feel like I would just be a bother or a burden. I’m always afraid that I’ll lose contact with my friends after graduating college, and since it’s so hard for me to make friends to begin with . . . well, that would be a very difficult thing to come to terms with.

You know, it’s taken me a long time to get to this point. Questioning whether these things were normal, or if they were bad enough to seek professional help. I was lost as to how to time manage, study effectively, and motivate myself to study from day one of college. Actually, even before then, but my pre-college education didn’t require so much effort. At first I thought it was just something that I had to learn — use a planner, study in chunks, study material as it’s presented, not the night before the exam — but as the years flew by, I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I could focus on one demanding class and do well in it, but doing that drained me of any effort that I needed to focus and study my for other demanding classes. Or I could focus on all the easier classes and do well in them, but in exchange I’d barely scrape by with a passing for the challenging classes. Eventually I subconsciously felt that this was the way things were with me. Studying in chunks didn’t help — half of my study chunk was spent doing random things, most of the time. I’d take a break, but not return to studying when my break was over. If I tried to motivate myself by saying that I could read a manga chapter or watch an anime episode, I’d break down halfway through and watch or read without finishing my task. Or even if I did finish my task, I’d get enveloped in reading the manga or watching the anime, and then it would be hours before I finally managed to tear myself away. “Well, it sounds like you just lack self-discipline, Praxis.” Maybe so. But even if I study in a place without those distractions, I get sidetracked by my own thoughts. If I take notes in a class, I’ll start doodling and then focus on my doodle. If I don’t doodle, and there’s a lull in the lecture, then my mind is gone. Even when I’m actively writing down notes, my mind can still wander. I’ll focus on the lecture for a few seconds, maybe even a minute, but then 5 minutes later I’ll realize that I’m not listening anymore, and haven’t been for a while.

Joe and Chandler had the right idea. Also, I have no idea what that blur near my right wrist is from.

I feel like it could be compared to resisting a flood. You can grab a tree, fence-post, lamp, street light — anything you can get a grip on — but it’s only a matter of time before you’re swept away by the torrent. Eventually, you get tired, fatigued, to the point where you just don’t care anymore, and hope that it’ll be over soon. I kinda feel like I’m floundering on the edge of a cliff, about to be washed into the ocean by the flood. I found a decent handhold when I went to the campus counseling center, but my grip seems to have slipped. A month ago, I told my parents that I thought I may have ADHD, and they supported me without hesitation or ridicule. My mom was hesitant to think I had ADHD since I had excellent grades prior to college, but did not criticize or question my decision. That took a lot of stress off of my mind, allowed me to get another grip on something solid and sturdy. And now I’ve been submerged by another wave of . . . despair? Yes, I think that word fits well here. Like I said in the video, I’m down to 25 mg of Adderall. Even though it hasn’t yet allowed me to focus and prioritize better, I realize that my body is still adjusting to the medication, and that because I’m a female, the effect of the Adderall might be affected by hormones/hormonal changes. Knowing that I won’t have anything more to take after tomorrow worries me because I haven’t consistently taken the prescription, nor have I found a dosage that has helped. And now I’m stuck with nothing, pretty much doing nothing in way of finding a solution to my problem, and I have to wait. To wait until my follow-up appointment comes around, and then most likely have to experiment more with dosages. And by then the semester is pretty much over and I’ll have made no discernible progress. I’m lost. How am I supposed to solve this problem in time for me to study and do well on the MCAT, while also juggling classes, writing my personal statement, finding people to write letters of rec, shadowing, starting med school apps, and figuring out plans and a living situation for the next year? What if I’m not able to pull it together and just burn out? I don’t think my situation is extreme enough to explain all of that away if an interviewer questions me about it.

At the end of my vlog, I said that didn’t want to use ADHD as an excuse for my deficits. After crying and slaving over this post all day and night, I think I’ve convinced myself that me having ADHD is rather likely. Or depression. What’s kind of stupid is that the Adderall has kept me awake for about 36 hours and decreased my appetite so much that I haven’t eaten a real meal since Friday (though I’m sure my gluttony on Thursday has helped in keeping my body from complaining). Seeing as a healthy diet, good night’s sleep, and regular exercise are essential in maintaining good health for normal people, the same goes for people suffering from a disorder. I know I can’t depend on medication alone, but the medication is supposed to help me establish healthier habits. With the way things are going, it’s going to be a long, uphill battle. I’m not one to ask for help. I’m also not one to divulge my problems and worries to others. I’m the kind of person to hold it in and hide it from the world, until the mass of problems and worries have grown so much that they overwhelm me. I guess that’s kind of what happened in this post. But I’m laying them out here, rather than trying to scoop them up and hide them away again. And I guess that this is my way of asking for help. To those of you who know me personally, I have (perhaps for the first time) willingly bared a portion of my inner self for you to judge, pity, condemn, and what have you. Errmahgerrd, this is getting dramatic.

I’m sure that you’ve been able to pick up on some of these things already, but here they are from my viewpoint. I’ll appreciate anything you can give me.  Ahh, but don’t worry about finding words of solace or wisdom if they won’t come to you naturally. Your acknowledgment and encouragement is perfectly fine too. So here I am, with a massive post that took a lot of time and effort to make. Sort of like a baby? It’s 11:00 pm, and I still haven’t finished studying the bio lab review, I haven’t written anything for the paper due on Tuesday, nor have I revised the paper due Wednesday or studied for Wednesdays exam. Maybe writing this post wasn’t the best use of my time, considering all of the assignments that are due soon, but I feel like this was something that was necessary for my mental well-being. I guess, in a way, I confronted myself here and became a little bit closer to accepting myself as well. I realize this entry is pretty odd. A 25 minute vlog (nearing 50 if you watch the secret vlog), followed by an uber long and serious blog that is punctuated by not-so-serious images. In retrospect, the blog totally stole the vlog’s thunder. Or at least completely overshadowed the vlog. What I lack in quantity, I make up for with quality? No? You don’t think so? Fusk.

Author’s note (26 Nov, 2:35 AM): Now, I realize that a much of what I wrote is either melodramatic (floundering on the edge of a cliff?), depressive, or maybe even self-deprecating, but that’s how I felt at the time. And, I guess some of those thoughts are always lingering in the back of my mind. You could say that this is what I’m like when I am feeling particularly low. I cycle between guilt and twisted humor. I’m sure the sleep deprivation amplified the intensity with which I experienced those two sides. As much as I want to go back and heavily edit and revise this post (and just take out that vlog, holy crap), I will leave it the way it is. This post was a good experience, and maybe someday the future me will learn something about herself that she had forgotten or denied (probably my foolishness/naivety). If this post ends up helping anyone else, then I would consider it a fair sacrifice. Some of my pride for someone else’s well-being. I would also like to note that my intention in writing this blog was not to focus on ADHD or my personal issues. My plan was to elaborate on the topics I skimmed over in the vlog, insert the images, and write a short blurb on what my mind/attention does when I’m sitting in a lecture or attempting to study at home. Everything else you read forced itself out while I was wallowing in my guilt and self-pity. I really had intended for this post to be more light-hearted (as you can see by the images) and impersonal (like my normal posts)! Just be glad that it makes any sense at all, since I wrote this blog in sections and alternated randomly among them as things/ideas popped in my head.

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