Journal Entry from 4th April 2018
Lord, I’m back here again. I feel so odd, tense, blank, irritated, antisocial yet needy and lonely at the same time. I sound like a broken record too don’t I? Now this feeling is back I feel almost stupid for forgetting that it exists and for thinking everything was fine. That annoying thing where I forget bad feelings. I forget how hard or horrible something feels so it hits hard like it’s new when it returns. My memory is so annoying. It’s so easy to make the same mistakes over and over again when you forget the consequences and don’t have anything to be scared of. I thought I would have researched and experimented enough about ADHD by now to prevent horrible feelings that I have felt before. why haven’t I protected myself in advance? It’s not a new feeling but i’ve not felt it in ages and my awareness has changed so it feels unfamiliar. It feels new because i’m not ready for it. I feel attacked. I could list all of these weird things i’m feeling but then at the same time I could say I feel nothing. Or am I just not thinking anything? That’s impossible actually. Or is it? Argghh mate! ADHD is doing my frickin head in. Excuse my french Lord but WOW!! To be this blank is just a madness. Like absolutely blank, still and anti social. Yet an emotional wreck too. I don’t even feel moody even though i’m associating all of this with negativity. I’m just numb.
I’ve just realised – my period is due. Oh gosh!!!
Oh my days!!! This used to happen before I found out that I had ADHD and was one of the reasons that I wanted to speak to a doctor about my emotions for the first time. I would have a petrifying 24 hour break down where I literally felt like no one would notice if I disappeared then come on the next day and be like: WOW is this PMS? I never noticed mood changes during my period until I was 30. That’s why I genuinely felt like my raging ADHD symptoms were something to do with a hormonal imbalance that kicks in at a certain age.
I’m just going to have to embrace this and take note of how i’m feeling instead of trying to force my way out and pretend that I feel Ok. Who do I even do that for? What am I trying to prove? Its that brush it under the carpet vibe i’ve had forever and i’m bored of it. Actually – it’s not. I’m just overthinking. why am I always so hard on myself? When I feel low I try to improve my mood and my atmosphere so I do things that will support and influence that. It’s a good thing. It’s not always escapism. Draining myself by faking smiles is what I can’t be doing. Not at the moment when I need to be putting myself first and getting to know myself properly for the first time ever. Im dealing with this head on now and i’m not going to feel bad or weak for feeling too much or for being hypersensitive. I need to identify how my ADHD affects my hormones or my periods or whatever it is being affected because I can feel it and it feels a lot worse than one of those ‘i’ve eaten too many skittles’ type of fuzzy days. I need to fully understand why I am sensitive Susan who feels everything one day and then numb Nora as empty as a night bus to Hillingdon the next. It makes me feel fake and inconsistent and I hate it.
I know i’m entitled to change how I feel and I have no reason to overthink it and be so critical towards myself but I guess the inconsistency disappoints me too much. Maybe I picture having someone inconsistent around me and because I don’t like the vision I get, I try not to be her to others. I need to just be OK with admitting that I don’t have my stuff together all of the time and despite doing so much to try to encourage others to feel good about and love themselves, I struggle to do so myself most of the time. Maybe its Ok to want to give what I don’t have. I need to accept that it’s not fake to want to save people from the struggles I feel I need saving from. Maybe, most definitely, I need to drink a camomile tea, stop thinking so far and wide and chill out! I’m really trying to do this ‘no medication’ route but I am so tempted to pop down pill lane when I feel like this. I wonder what my mind would sound like if I was on medication right now. Would I still doubt myself and my thoughts so much? What about the opportunities I am presented with and 90% of my decisions.? Would they feel more secure? This is all so draining and tiring. I am actually getting tired from my brain activity. I feel like I need to lie down like i’ve just got in from doing 3 back to back classes at the gym. It’s actually nuts when i think about it. The times that my mind races the fastest are the times I feel numb, heavy and can’t move. I dont always notice it because im thinking of 39 different topics, ideas, or conversations at once but not knowing which of these to focus on or act upon makes me shattered and flustered then figuring out where to start once i’ve decided leads to a brand new tab of panic or I just freeze. Usually at the edge of the sofa staring at the TV for what feels like 20 seconds but turns out to be 3 hours.
Exercise helps but I’ve been feeling all frumpy and stodgy and i’ve been quite busy too so i’ve not been in the mood. I also keep getting distracted by remembering things I need to do that I could have done the day before and now hardly have time to and it’s making me furious. These are just simple things that I could easily complete and feel fantastic after yet l’d rather stare into space feeling numb. I even tell myself as i’m sitting there that i’m going to get up and tackle a few emails, or some dishes and I feel like I just need to work it all out in my head for a few mins before I get up to do it then…… I wake up shivering on the sofa at 3am. I must have thought myself to sleep with my brain going round and round in circles and ZERO action attached.
Journal Entry from 5th April 2018
Lord, last night was mad. I cant believe how I allowed one thought to spiral so much. Today has been so different. After praying for clarity last night, I woke up today and decided that I am not going to question every single thing that i’m uncomfortable with. I made a personal plan to shower myself with the kind of love and grace that I would offer someone else feeling the way I was and its felt so nice. For the first time, I’m acknowledging that I don’t feel great but Im not doing my own head in about it. I didn’t get annoyed earlier on when I couldn’t be bothered to attack my to do list full of ‘important’ things and things I am ‘behind’ on, I just acknowledged that I was feeling weird and I released it in prayer. It felt so freeing to just tell you that I can’t explain what I’m feeling but I don’t feel like doing anything. Why has this always felt like such a crime?
The TV was on and I wasn’t watching it or taking in a second of what was on despite scrolling through the sky menu for 29 hours before picking anything. It actually made me laugh. As soon as I found something ‘good enough’ to be my background noise, I looked at my to do list, picked up my laptop, dipped in and out of the sites I needed to visit or work on and then just stared blankly at the floor for a bit. Nothing was interesting enough to hold my focus but I snapped out pretty quick and I smiled at myself. A cute accepting smile for no apparent reason but I meant it. I realised that I won’t complete my tasks properly and to my best ability whilst feeling this fuzzy so I picked up my phone which instantly made me tense. It wasn’t anything I saw, or the fact I had given up on my tasks, just the phone in general. I’ve had a phone break since then and I feel so much better. I feel floaty and smiley and not irritated like yesterday. I think i’m going to do some research on PMS as I hardly know anything about it. I ‘m gonna have an early night too. Ohhh the thought is just so cosy. I’d love to have a nice lavender oil bath, do a little face mask and read until I fall asleep but I can’t be bothered to even turn a tap on so I’m gonna watch Jolynne Whittaker’s latest youtube video and get a good cosy night’s sleep.
I was going to write a blog post on Nutrition and how its linked to managing my ADHD brain but I decided to share the journal entries above instead because I need to let other people know that bad days are normal. No matter what methods you adopt to manage your ADHD or your mental health in general, it’s OK not to be OK. A lot of people send me messages saying that they admire me for how happy and positive I always am. Most of these people struggle with ADHD too and can’t comprehend how I do it. Having people I don’t know (and people I do know) tell me that they appreciate my positivity or that I have posted the right thing at the right time when they needed some encouragement really warms my heart. Even more so when I’m posting certain things to remind MYSELF that God is with me, life is good and everything is fine despite how rubbish or blank I feel. The truth is; I’m not always having the most uplifting day. On odd days, I post things that uplift me in hopes that I can pass on the feeling of relief that I received to any of you that might be going through similar.
During the days when I feel low like this, I am usually quite busy so I force myself to shift my focus and you lot get the fruit of that (On my Instagram or Snapchat story – @pennybelle). I read and declare my positive affirmations out loud and I sometimes search hashtags so I can find pictures or posts that will perk me up when I need it. I also purposely save and re read posts that make me feel better. I am a strong believer in Gods perfect plan and I know he only allows bad things to happen for the greater good so if I’m feeling low, hopeless or triggered , not only do I try my hardest NOT to soak it in and believe the crappy thoughts flying around my head, I always reach for or send out some goodness to switch up the energy that ‘m absorbing. I say always but we all know that there is literally NOTHING a person with ADHD ‘always’ does.
Because I have never suffered with the emotional mess a period is known to drag along with her, I have never looked into or felt the need to know more about PMS (physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the one to two weeks before a woman’s period) but after last week, I have a hunger to understand this new layer of ADHD that i’ve not dug into because despite it being ‘normal’ for women, it felt very much like a day that ADHD was winning and it was very tough to deal with.
What I found out was that women with ADHD are more sensitive to oestrogen. During the first two weeks of a menstrual cycle, oestrogen levels are high and women with ADHD seem to be in better control of their ADHD symptoms. As oestrogen levels drop toward the end of the cycle, symptoms of low oestrogen can start to make usual ADHD symptoms worse. When low oestrogen meets ADHD, women can feel EVEN MORE anxious, irritable, confused, fatigued, depressed, restless and mood swingy than usual. This may sound or look like a massive strop to outsiders looking or listening in but it really affects the quality of our lives, relationships and performance at work.
The reason why PMS is so challenging when you have ADHD is because your ability to pay attention, problem solve, plan, and regulate your emotions is managed by certain chemicals in your brain. Dopamine is one of these chemicals. People with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine in our brains and dopamine levels are controlled by oestrogen and progesterone.
‘’Oestrogen is one of the key hormones that regulate the female reproductive system. It is also involved in the regulation of feel good neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These assist with important cognitive functions such as focus, concentration, mood and memory. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. During the first 14 days of the menstrual cycle, you feel great because oestrogen is high and progesterone is lower. However, around the halfway point in your cycle (day 14) the oestrogen levels begin to drop and progesterone levels increase and this is when you start to experience the PMS problems. Women with ADHD have been found to be a lot more sensitive to lower oestrogen levels.’’ – untappedbrilliance.com
Basically, women with ‘normal’ brains act a bit ADHD-ish when they are struggling with PMS and women with ADHD brains tend to feel like they lose their marbles 71 times a day LOL
To combat this or to attempt to stay on top of it all and NOT break down every month without adding new potions to our medicine cupboards, we need to be aware of and willing to implement strategies to tweak our daily patterns and become more emotionally stable. Here are a few that I found on the sites that I used for my research. They are basically the same things that any person with ADHD needs to take on board (apart from the actual period related ones lol):
- Firstly, we need to Increase our dopamine levels. We can do this by getting more sleep, working out more or just regularly (10 mins is better than nothing at all), Sticking to whole foods rather than processed stuff and Meditation with or without soaking/calming music.
- Tracking our period cycles and our ADHD symptoms will benefit us too as this will make us feel more in control. Even if you just do it for 3 months to learn a bit more about yourself, It would be a good idea to keep a note of any patterns you notice. I would do this in my daily diary but there are lots of apps that help with it too.
- Take Vitamins daily. Vitamin B6, B12, Vitamins D, C and E are all important to help PMS. I take B6 for focus too.
- I know this is going to sound like swearwords to some of you but once you notice your patterns, you need to cut caffeine out or right down a couple of days before the time when you you usually feel foggy. Scary, I know.
- Our diets on a whole will need to change too. Dairy products, Sugar, Food colouring, Alcohol, and salty foods make PMS (and ADHD symptoms) worse. I try to stay away from them completely but if you really struggle to do this, again, I would advise you cut down on them a few days before that hard part of your cycle.
- Reduce stress, as it makes both your ADHD and PMS symptoms worse. Remember, how you live every day affects your PMS; not just what you do during the second 2 weeks of your cycle.
- Avoid STRESS! Take deep breaths, let go of things you can’t control, live in the moment and every time you are tempted to worry, use that same energy to give your worries to God. Simply call on Him and ask Him to take the tension away.
I feel like there is actually more I could write but i’m not sure if its rambling or stuff i’m just tempted to repeat and I don’t want this post to start getting boring so I will end with some encouragement to practice self care and to forgive yourself more. I really hope this has helped you as much as it has me. Not just the period havers either lol – Lads need to know this stuff too so they can understand the ADHD ladies in their lives.
And finally, some wise words of comfort from one of my Angels:
“STOP running around like mad headless chicken when you feel like this!!! At the end of the day You have a chemical imbalance in your brain and that’s okayyyy! You just need to go with it on days when you know it’s happening, treat yourself nice and prepare a bit next time”. – Serena Brown (Harmony Praise)
Science-y bits taken from: everydayhealth.com and untappedbrilliance.com