It's been a rough few weeks, and I'm finally finding answers as to why, and entirely by accident.
I've come to realize that I've spent 3+ decades living with ADHD that I should have been diagnosed with as a kid and never was. The first time I distinctly remember getting in trouble for drawing was in first grade. My parents were called in and a big deal was made out of it. I remember impulsive outbursts that only make sense now as an adult looking back at it. And none of the adults in my life, or 17 years worth of teachers, never thought that those were symptoms that deserved treatment, but were rather behaviors to punish. I learned to mask my symptoms and internalize everything so that I could survive school and society. And now I realize that as an adult, my ability to work 12 and 14 hour days for weeks on end, as long as the work is engaging, is down to my inability to regulate my attention. Because it's not a well-balanced 12-14 hours. It's 12-14 hours at the expense of other important things like feeding myself and cleaning up. And I'd get frustrated with people for not being able to put in those hours while I'm over here busting my ass, because other than a few behavioral issues that were beaten out of me as a kid, I've been told that I'm perfectly typical... and if I'm not wired any differently than anyone else, then those lazy fucks can get off their asses and put in 14 hour days, 7 days a week, just like I do. But I'm not. I'm not wired like the average person.
It's only in recently hearing the stories of people that were diagnosed in their 30s or 40s that ADHD even made sense. I definitely didn't have a deficit of attention if I could sit down and work on something for 12 to 14 hours. And I wasn't hyperactive. So it was only in hearing the stories of other adults that I realized that ADHD is a really shitty name. That's why some have called for renaming it DAVE: Dopamine Attention Variability Excecutive-dysfunction. Everything is either 0% or 150%. If solving a problem engages us, then we can become hyperfocused to the exclusion of everything else. If something bores us, then nothing in the world can make us do it. And of the three forms of ADHD, the inattentive type especially is good at skating through school because it's not challenging and we thrive on the chaos of leaving things until the last minute and never studying, because that stress puts our brain into "GET SHIT DONE" mode and we become superhuman for long enough to get things done and then we crash. We get good grades and sit quietly in our chairs, so everyone tells us we're well-adjusted and we believe it until our lives crumble more and more with each passing decade. Or we just continue to struggle with basic things that other people do with ease.
There are lots of other things that go along with the ADHD. 50% of cases include some form of anxiety, and many include depression. Sometimes those arise independently, and sometimes as a result of the ADHD... it's anxiety inducing to try to act like a normal person day after day and constantly fail at it. And when you've been forced to internalize everything as a kid, and the you have a disorder that makes you hyperfixate on things, what ends up happening when anxious thoughts start playing on a loop in your head and you are incapable of switching to anything else? And emotional dysregulation has always gone hand in hand with ADHD but has historically been excluded from research because... how do you measure emotions? We either don't feel the emotions we're supposed to, or we feel them too much. Straight faced at a funeral, or absolutely destroyed by something someone said as a joke. It's fucking bullshit, to be honest. But that's how our brains are wired.
I've felt that my focus was getting worse as an adult and blamed the internet. To be honest, most of the internet is designed to hijack the attention that we struggle to regulated, so I don't think the internet is entirely without blame. But looking back and really thinking hard about it, those seeds were already there, it's just more obvious now that you can scroll indefinitely just looking for that next dopamine hit.
I don't know what's next. I'm looking into treatment and strategies for managing symptoms so that I can do the basic things I need to do to keep myself alive now that I actually understand what the problem is. Financially I'm not sure what I'll be able to do. Generally I don't like medications because they treat the symptoms rather than the cause, but in this case the cause is that society is bullshit, and it's going to take me a few more decades to fix that. 😉 In this case, ADHD meds have about a 80% success rate, and people with my form of ADHD seem to do especially well on them, so the ends might justify this particular means. I'm less worried about needing to provide all of my own food this year, since I will theoretically have income come Septemberish, so long as the writing job pans out. Which is good, since a bunch of the garden has been destroyed by pests and escaped chickens. We've also been setting records for rain and low temps this month when we historically get basically nothing this time of year. I haven't been able to get much in the ground because at this point I'm worried that most of the warm season crops are just going to flounder if we continue having this weird weather. I'm so dependent on being able to save seeds that I'm hesitant to put things in the ground if there's a good chance it won't make it to maturity. The other side of me thinks this is perfectly landrace forging weather, but it still seems might wasteful when the odds are so bad.
Speaking of landraces, I did get in new chicks for my landrace chicken breeding project. I think I already mentioned that the friend who trades me feed for eggs wanted more eggs, so we ordered in more chicks. To my Buff Orpingtons I added in Bielefelders, Columbian Wyandottes, and Black Australorps. There are a few other breeds I want to add into the mix. The goal is a larger dual-purpose chicken that's good at foraging for its own food but is also relatively docile and friendly. I want to capture a lot of the things that I enjoyed about having Icelandics while eliminating a lot of the downsides. We'll see. I'd also like them to be relatively broody so they can perpetuate themselves, but I want to hatch out about 100 chicks next year if I can manage it so that I have plenty of birds to select from... and have plenty of birds to put in the freezer. Even in a best case scenario, I don't think I'm going to have enough broody hens to come anywhere near that. And I honestly don't know that I'll be able to buy or produce enough food on site to feed that many birds. I'll have to wait until it gets closer to that time. I'm starting to look at cabinet incubators, and if the writing job pans out that might be something I invest in this year. As my landrace develops, hatching out chicks to sell might end up being a good way to bring in some income.
Even though the end goal is to have them be mostly self-regulating, I'm expecting to use the clan mating system for at least the first several generations to make sure the genetics are as widely dispersed as possible. We'll see how that goes. It's more hands on than I want to be, but it's better that than creating genetic bottlenecks that cause me problems in the future. It'll be interesting to see how all of these various traits combine over the next few generations.
If you haven't already seen it, here's a short video I did to introduce my new chicks. Since I didn't do any talking in the video I tried to put a nice write up in the description of the video that details the qualities of each of these breeds and why I selected them to meet my breeding goals.
I did butcher one of my serial escapee hens this past week. Wasn't entirely on purpose... accidentally broke her neck trying to pin her down and had to finish the job... but it's honestly kind of a relief to not have to deal with a bird that constantly getting out and causing problems. Plus, she was delicious... if a bit tougher than the last one I ate. This is only the second time I've butchered a chicken and it was significantly easier this time than it was the first time. I also had the foresight to wear gloves this time, which makes the grossness of the job way more tolerable. But that's probably just my germaphobia coming out. I did roast her even though she was old enough that I knew better... but I really wanted to render out as much fat as possible, which I then used to cook the homemade croutons for my salad. Such a simple thing, but it adds so much to a salad.
Anyway. It's well past my bedtime, but I wanted to get an update posted while I was in the headspace for it. Hope you guys are doing well.
Also, have been wanting to give a shout out and big thank you to Ollis and Stephan, who are my first two supporters on Ko-fi
. I hate that I haven't been able to thank you guys personally, but it's been taking all of the energy I have to just wake up and do the bare minimum each day. I really do appreciate it. It helps make sure my dog gets fed, and that eliminates a lot of the stress right there. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope that I can get all of my stuff sorted out so that I can continue to do these little experiments and create videos about them. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.