My dears –
As many of you who participate on The Way of the River Facebook page or who read this missive with some regularity know, I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Inattentive Type. Some folks with this version of ADHD say that they have “ADD without the H,” a decision I understand and respect. However, as our comrade Megan Potter said, it is our minds that are unusually active, even if our bodies aren’t.
And it’s true, when I am head down in hyperfocus, I am ON. IT. I can plan, create, and execute with skill. I can organize a calendar, for heaven’s sake! And when combined with the hypomania that can come with my bipolar disorder, I might even… even… (the crowd gasps in anticipation!) tidy something.
Lately, I have been head down in something you, my dear comrades, will be hearing about very soon, quite a bit ahead of its public reveal. For now, though, we’ll all have to wait as I get it all together.
So my question for you today, given that I’m NOT yet giving away my secrets, is how do you know what day it is?
I’m not talking about looking at my calendar. I do that a lot. Like, a lot. My calendar keeps my work and religious community lives running well at all. Nevertheless, I can look at the calendar, and then ten minutes later, Vyvanse or no Vyvanse (it’s a drug to improve focus in people with ADHD, like Aderall), I turn to Julie. “Remind me what day it is?” And really what I’m asking, I think, in my heart is, “What month is it?
I somehow feel as though March was just yesterday, April just happened, and how it is not June yet. What is with that? We have said in my house that during the pandemic, in a household with no one who is sick, days are like weeks, weeks are like years, years are like decades, and months are completely random. Oh, that’s just when we’re experiencing them. Looking back, thank you, ADHD, I have no idea when anything happened.
Two weeks ago? A month ago?
Thank the Mother of all the gods, I have a Google calendar and it and I are friends. Otherwise, I would not have a clue where I was in my life.
Do you feel this? Do you feel this strange disorientation?
I mean, I realize that having ADHD makes me a special case, one in which my executive functioning gets together with the pandemic and does the tango. But how about you? I ask because even one of the most organized, clear, and routine-loving people I know, my own dear spouse, is affected by this.
Early on in Year One of the Pandemic, I wrote two editions of Reflections on grief, one of which was called, “That Feeling You’re Feeling Is Grief.” But now? Now I don’t know. Now I am pleased to be fully vaccinated. Now I am delighted to be able to see people I love live and in person. TO GET HUGS! YES!
And 30% of the population isn’t vaccinated, and some number like 15% aren’t intending to get vaccinated. Some of those people have good reasons not to be vaccinated, but not most of them. Most of them are feeling fine about putting immunocompromised people like my twin nephews at risk for full-on COVID.
So do I think masks are going away? Hell, no. Turns out — shocker — they protect us against the flu, the common cold, and some other diseases, as well. There are ways in which the US population is healthier than ever… well, not really, but we haven’t been seeing the flu in anything like the numbers we usually do, and the same with the cold. So that’s… something?
But we’re still just exhausted, no? Exhausted by lack of human contact, especially, but not exclusively, us “high-test extroverts.” We’re exhausted by our work, even when it’s work we love, are passionate about, work that makes us better versions of the selves we might otherwise be.
But worry and grief have taken their toll, and now a kind of insidious numbness seems to be sinking in, at least for me. It’s not depression–I know you, you pest–but it has things in common with it. Just not finding joy in things that I have loved. ‘Cause they’re nice, but there’s only so many times I can watch Bridgerton before I really don’t care at ALL what happens to the characters. (Or is there?)
So I am trying to find joy every day. And I often find joy in beauty. Friends, you think I’ve been obsessive about flowers before, but the discovery of a big ol’ sage plant I didn’t know was lurking (and blooming!) in the corner of the garden by my office window has my heart doing cartwheels. The rhododendron is actually blooming — thank you, friend gardeners for pruning the lilac so the rhodo could have some sun. And roses, roses, roses. Or should I say, “Grinch heads, Grinch heads, Grinch heads!” By which I mean, I have counted over 40 rose buds, working on blossoming, and only one has bloomed yet. It’s gonna be EPIC around here, friends.
And I do watch, listen, and read. I do make sure to keep up the banter with my wife. I play with makeup, ‘cause that’s how I roll.
What do you do to keep the numbness at bay? Can you call someone, or text them, just to let them know you’re thinking of them? Or better yet, send someone actual MAIL! On both ends, the contact is nice, and you’ll have done a mitzvah, in any case.
Today, look at Pandemic Year Two in the face and say, “Okay, you. You’re not going to take me and my mood down. You’re not.”
I’m going to finish my work today and write a letter to the first people who popped into my head. They have no idea it’s coming, and it will be super-fun to surprise them. I recommend sharing the love, as well. Because love not only casts out fear, as the biblically minded will know, but it wakes us up, makes us feel more alive, gives us a sense of agency or hope, and makes us and those around us happy. And happiness is in short supply these days, friends. So let’s make some!