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Category Archives: ADHD and university

“I don’t believe in labelling kids….”

Today I gave a presentation about ADHD for my group of GP registrars. Just this morning I joked that instead of giving a presentation I should have filmed myself trying to make the presentation and just show that. By this time I am permanently off my meds and I think the max focus time for this presentation was 5 minutes. 

Still impressive that I managed to make something coherent out of it. Suppose it’s one of the things I learned it 29 years of ADHD: the skill to make a rough draft for a project in less than 10 minutes.

Anyhow. 

So these are a bunch of doctors. 

I was just running through some basic stuff. 

And two of them didn’t really believe in helping these kids by ‘labelling’ them. After all, if pedagogic measures can help some? 

I tried to explain that if pedagogical measures solve the problem there is no ADHD. That these kids need more guidance. That you help them to understand themselves and to deal with their relative impairments. Yes but doesn’t everyone have their issues? We all have to learn to deal with our issues. Yes, but you all don’t end up screwing up your life because of it. Aren’t they just lazy? No. 

Honestly, from one of them it made sense. She was in my mentor group and I feel like I get it now.

She doesn’t want to get it. 

Makes sense why my trying to explain my ADHD issues in mentor group didn’t help much. She wanted to hear that I use it as an excuse. She didn’t care that I only offered as an explanation while I struggled on to make things right. 

There wasn’t time for much of a discussion. 

I’m not really sure if I really was going to put in the effort. If people don’t want to hear they don’t want to hear. 

TDH reminded me that it didn’t matter because I know the truth.

Because to be honest, it’s hard not to take it personally despite the fact that I didn’t mention my own ADHD to the general group.

Then I was thinking. 

Perhaps I’d rather have ADHD than a mind that works like that. 

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Update on the school situation

I haven’t posted much about it lately, and what I have posted was mainly very emotional and very frustrated.

Long story short:
I have been placed into a group that started half a year later, so basically, I’m already finishing half a year later than planned originally. This brings me on an education duration of just under 10 years, post secondary school. Given that it takes 9 years if everything goes smoothly…. taking 9 months longer doesn’t matter that much I suppose. The difference between the old group, the one I couldn’t manage studying in, and this one is enormous. It makes me a bit angry still: had I been placed in a different group to begin with, things would have been different. Had this been an option over half a year ago, when I told the mentors this wasn’t working for me, things would have been different.
But they are what they are now, and I’m just relieved that I am now in a position where I can actually learn something. I no longer have to go to extremes to read a bunch of text I can’t focus on, or sit through 3-hour sessions and receive a negative evaluation because I didn’t respond enthusiastically to a discussion about some detail after 2,5 hours of being unable to focus any more. The pace is a lot higher, and there is a lot less emphasis on theoretical details… and a lot more emphasis on what we’re going to do with this. What makes the difference, you may ask… Well… the students.
I do still find uni days long… It’s still too much interaction with a chair. I don’t think that will change. But it’s better now.

I’ve also switched to a different practice and a different preceptor. It’s different. Nothing personal towards the previous one, to be honest, I know she tried and I tried and we kept on missing each other’s point and we kept on confusing each other… It just really didn’t work, and that was horribly stressful. New place is bigger, more organised, and just different. I now have a male preceptor, who was hand-picked for me because he is very experienced as a preceptor. He is. Just not sure what that says about me.

The whole situation has had more of an impact on me than I’d like, and I’m still working on regaining my confidence and de-stressing. Small things freak me out, (small things were the problem last time!)… I worry a lot more, find myself more anxious than I normally am. Of course, some things latched onto some of my ‘issues’, and I have to deal with that too. Not fun. But I’ll be OK in the end.

I’ll also see how it goes with training now.

And guess what? They even have a pic of the doctor set I used to have as a kid on the internet!

 

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It’s still a bit of a nightmare…

When it rains, it pours…

In my case, the ‘pouring’ is happening in my toilet, from the roof, where it’s leaking. It’s dripping off the lamp, so that means no electricity in that ‘group’. For some reason, that group is basically all electricity in my house except for the bedroom, extra room and one wall (aka one socket) in the living room. It started leaking last Thursday, excellent timing. (Reported it, nothing has been done, because the cause is still unknown)

The ‘rain’, is in addition to the pleasant stress associated with planning to move in together, the trouble with my training programme has reached what I hope is it’s maximum. Had my evaluation on Friday. Basically they flunked me. Because of, essentially, the personal matters. Because, essentially, due to all the trouble I’ve been having with it, I’m far behind. Because they want to see me ‘reflect, evaluate and change my behaviour’. And more importantly, talk about it in a setting where I don’t feel safe talking about myself. And, of course, verbalise it in a way that suits them, not necessarily me. They want me to use the ‘I did’ form for everything, while I’ve learned to use a more neutral, descriptive way in order to deal with my internalising issues.

And because, somewhere, I ‘flipped’ into a character I don’t know, but I remember from long ago. I didn’t get much chance to ‘flip out’ again, because of the ongoing pressure, and I fully agree that that ‘character’ isn’t fit to practice. I’m not being me, I’m acting like someone that reminds me of when I was a scared girl in an unsafe world, at the mercy of others. A powerless child, misunderstood, and basically never good enough. I’m essentially trying to disappear.

It didn’t help that I wasn’t being heard when I did speak up. I’ve written enough about this.

I’ll hear in two weeks what my options are, in the meantime I still have to prove myself, because there still are ‘conditions’ for me to live up to at work, if I want to finish my training. I still have to ‘flip out’ of that character. I am essentially doing it, but I’m still not feeling up to full power yet. I also have to think about ‘what I need’ in terms of the ‘special tract’ I’ll be entering. Essentially that comes down to a magnifying glass while I prove that I can do this (and, yes, I still need to talk about myself, in a way that doesn’t ‘fit’ with me, and meanwhile -for my own sanity- not implode).

I’d need to know the options, really. I know one thing: if I had to make my own plan, I’d probably try to do the impossible with chances of burning myself out with all the consequences that has. I’m a woman who’s spent her life trying to be ‘good enough’, trying to fit in the ordinary world… and I was only diagnosed with my ADHD 3 years ago. All I’ve heard was ‘if you really want to, you can, so stop whining, stop making excuses’. While perseverance is a good thing, there is a point where you should stop. I may not be anorexic any more, but I still am capable of pushing myself too far. So please don’t ask me to make the plan of how I’m going to save this thing that’s really important to me: I want to prove that I can do it, and essentially do the entire year in half a year… preferably graduate with the guys I started with and -just because I’m mad- prove that I can be better than most in my group. So please, tell me the options, and tell me it’s impossible to do what I’d want to do… and then allow me to accept this ‘failure’.

Speaking about that little history of mine: the fact that I’m not dramatically underweight, tube fed, ‘bringing my honours to the porcelain god’ or… dead… proves that I’m capable of reflecting, analysing and changing my behaviour. I’ve come a pretty far way from the way I once was, went from essentially diminishing myself to fit into the world, to the woman I am today; I’m pretty strong, pretty resilient… and pretty much loved for who I am, not for who someone thinks I should be. Because I am more than enough. I was made to be me, not to be someone else.

I’m trying to understand what went wrong here, because I’m really not up for a rerun of this episode in my life. What is the lesson I can learn? Irrespective of the actual training programme. Was it the pressure to conform? Was it actually trying to conform? What triggered this sick cycle? And how do I get out of it? Is conforming ever really the answer? Am I wrong for dreaming of a world in which we can work together, each bringing their own valuable persona and their own valuable part? A world in which there is no majority, just love? In which we learn from each other, in which we all listen carefully to each other… see the beauty in one another?

 
 

Studying.

 

All WOW moments under pressure set aside – that’s not a viable long-term solution- I still feel like I have no idea how to do this.

I have absolutely no idea why most higher education is set up like this:
Lots of theory, based on what someone else thinks is interesting.
Everything has to be done in a certain -not really efficient and rather unpractical- way. Maybe that’s because many intelligent people seem to live in their cognition.
Translating theory to practice is very very complicated for most.
Bonus points for pointlessly using big words.
Pictures and graphs are for babies.

I really really don’t know.

And I really don’t understand how these people LEARN much. Some do, and are very snooty about it. Good for you, now what else do you have to offer?

 

Give me access to clinical practice and a library with PubMed access, give me some rough guidelines and maybe some coaching and I’ll rock your socks off.

Force me to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, force me to read a bunch of texts, to do assignments of which I see no point.. and I get stuck. It becomes torture.

I’ve tried my best to read the mandatory prep reading. I’ve spent hours trying different ways. I haven’t learned much from it.

I was so excited to be let into this programme, I almost -or no I actually did- hit my head against a lamp when jumping up and down out of sheer joy when they let me in. I really love the work bit, I love primary care.

Two months and a bit into the programme I am completely disappointed. I find my mood taking a drastic plunge on Thursday evening because free time means study time (and chores time). I hate both so much I don’t know if yelling or crying is the best response. Studying is torture. I spend all weekend trying to get myself to do something extremely boring and looking forward to Tuesday evening, when class day is over. The others enjoy the break from the practice, I dread Tuesdays because it means going to class, (sitting still, listening, more boring info). I haven’t learned much outside of simply working. I find myself not giving a fuck about most of the assignments. These people have a way of ruining anything that could be interesting. (I thought it would be interesting to sort out and present stuff about knee examination, nice and practical. I also figured we’d all get to do that, so why not do something I find interesting. So I agreed to do it. And then discovered the question was ‘what is the scientific background of the examination of the knee. Snore. Why would I WANT to present that???? ).

I have no idea what to do.

I tried looking up study tips for ADHD, none of them really solves the problem: only snore-minded people can follow this course.

It’s not worth my sanity.

I have no idea where this is going to end. I know this: I am planning to do the bare minimum and not read the prep. I don’t care. I’m wasting my time trying to do it their way, they won’t let me do it my way. I’ll see where it ends. The only really shitty bit is that I have a half-finished degree; just finishing med school and nothing else doesn’t really get you anywhere. I mean, I can work as a doctor, but I always need a supervisor. And that’s going to be less fun when I’m 40.

It’s not worth my sanity, it’s not worth my relationship.

I should never have gone to med school. I should have done some form of uni of applied sciences, finish at 22 and just get on with doing what I do best: the actual thing. It doesn’t matter that I may have a lot to offer, it doesn’t matter that IQ-wise I may (or may not) qualify for Mensa. It doesn’t matter that I can be a very good doctor, ADHD or no ADHD.

The way to get there is not for people like me, it’s for more of the same sort of people. I hate society.

And I need more time to ‘play’ in order to keep on functioning.

 

ADHD disability? Super power you mean?

So remember how I absolutely do not function as a student under normal circumstances?

Here’s how I function under extraordinary circumstances (and why I want to be treated by an ADHD ER doc. I think the H bit is vital here…)

We’re doing a mandatory emergency medicine course this week. I am technically the holder of a valid ALS and some other diplomas, did those courses 3 years ago but they’re pretty useless outside of the ED. Plus, three years ago…. I am not one of the most experienced acute care people here.

Prep was a 217 page reader, an e-learning and a ‘serious game’.

Estimated reading time for the reader was 440 minutes. That’s 7h20mins, an impossible task for me. Under normal circumstances.

The game was a failure, I just clicked through.

Most came prepared, I did not.

I chose to get max out of active learning, and by day 2 I started clicking.

See, I normally think of 3653 things at once, emergencies allow me that calming rush of adrenaline, and suddenly that Ferrari engine gets to do it’s thing: go fast.

Practice scenario 1 didn’t go well, too fake actually. And on day 1. Scenario 2 went well, apart from forgetting the f’ing glucose.
In real life it would have made no difference, I’d have checked it a few minutes later.

Tomorrow is test day. As a way to revise (which is why it doesn’t work the other way round!) I just used my Ferrari mind to read the 217 page reader in…. Under 2,5 h. I skipped a few pages that were definitely not relevant for primary care (I have no CT scan, for example). Concerta helped me stay awake I think.
And I did this in the hotel foyer/lounge area/bar, because that helped me focus. (Well, apart from the bit where one of the instructors asked me if I thought this was helping…)

And now for sleep, to help those brain links grow stronger.

 

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