Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 Re-Cap

Wow.  2009 is gone.  In a blink of an eye.  Each day, month, and year just keep going by faster and faster!  I feel like I'm trying to stop a train sometimes.  I just want things to slow down!!! 

So I am going to take a minute and reflect on the past year.  If I had to pick two words to describe 2009, it would be clarity and contentment.  This year has been a journey--some family and friends have been on that journey with me (us), and I am thankful for their support and prayers.  Some people have mentioned the idea of me blogging about it, and I have gone back & forth in my mind, deciding whether or not to shout it out to the world.  But I'm pretty much an open book.  Too open sometimes.  But that's just me.  Take me or leave me.  It's a long story, so I'll just stick to the high points.  I think that some people might need to hear my story and know that no one is perfect, and that there is help out there.

This journey started in January---with a series of events adding up to an adult-ADD diagnosis in June.  I bet you rolled your eyes when you read ADD.  But it's real--and for me, my symptom behaviors could have been detrimental for me and my marriage.

I started researching Adult ADD back in January...I took an online test and the results said that I had 5 out of the 6 types of ADD.   So in June I went to a psychiatrist, and yes, I do. I’ve had it all my life, but always managed.  He said that stress can really make it tip the scale. But if you had asked me if I was stressed, I would have said no!  I'm just busy!  Working full-time, and juggling the kids....but I was putting a lot of pressure (ie, stress) on myself and not even realizing it. 

He prescribed Adderall for me, and my life is completely different & so much better.  The Adderall is a wonder drug & lifesaver for me. My mind is calm, and I am content.  To say that I was high-strung was an understatement (just ask hubby).  I am no longer stressed or anxious.  I can focus at work, and actually PLAY with the kids.  And I'm just not going crazy in my head like I was. I feel normal & sane, for a lack of a better term.  The medication has helped me in all areas of my life, and I could talk about them for days.  But here are the top two things:

Perfectionism is part of the ADD, and that is gone, replaced with contentment. I tried to be the perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect daughter, perfect daughter-in-law, good employee—juggling work, the kids, the hubby, trying to keep up the house, and mostly just trying to live up to everyone's expectations (real or perceived)  Now, it is what it is.  I can only do what I can do in the hours I'm alotted.  I'm not making myself crazy being Super-Wife, Super-Mom, Super-Daughter anymore. 

And out of the quest for perfection, another part of ADD comes addiction--drugs, alcohol, etc. But I wasn't drinking or snorting anything. I have realized that my addiction is shopping and compulsive buying. Yes, women shop, but I had been hiding the extent of the truth—both from myself and hubby. Sounds silly, but it is real. I started researching Shopaholics Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous just out of curiosity. To my surprise, I met almost every 'qualification' and recognized my behavior, both in the past and present. After a charging spree at Garden Ridge one night, I got in my car and realized my heart was beating out of my chest. I thought, 'why am I having a physical reaction to buying kitchen rugs at Garden Ridge?'   Later I realized it was my 'high'.  My release from the pressure.  When Mike asked me to cut up my credit card a few years ago, that was like asking me to give up the crack pipe, or not to drink. That was my lifeline, my release…my drug. And I never cut it up.

In January, I saw my credit card balance & a loan balance and thought, what the heck? Really? What am I spending my money on? I looked at the online statement and saw that I was buying stuff. Clothing, stuff for the house, the kids, and me...No major purchases...just compulsive buys.  You can't look around my house and say, oh, she spends her money on _____.   That's the part that is the most frustrating.  I label myself as a bargain shopper. And I really am. But I can spend some major dollars on a sale, or even at a thrift store!  

Now my desire for 'things' and 'stuff' has diminished significantly. And the desire to spend money is much less. Before, my mind was consumed with switching out accessories in the house, or what is hanging where, and if the rug is not the exact shade of red that I want, and if the double bookcase isn’t exactly what I want.  And when I say consumed, I mean that all I could think about is that particular thing--close to obsession.   Ridiculous.  I have two precious babies running around and I'm thinking about a rug?  things on the wall?  Seriously.  It wasn't normal.  I would have bought 3 rugs just to find the right one..Now, it doesn’t matter. I feel so liberated.  And most importantly, my mind is focused on my kids--really being present in body and in MIND. So that the time I spend with them is truly QUALITY time.

The medication has helped tremendously with the shopping & buying compulsion--I can pass by Target or a thrift store without a 2nd 3rd thought.  I now have the ability to really see the difference between a want and a need. My mind is calmer--so I have the ability to think through things before I react.  It's not about the immediate gratification.

Now just as a disclaimer, the desires are still there, and I still catch myself in the middle of Target with a handful armful of clothes, or at Goodwill with a handful armful of things.  (I don't get baskets when I go in stores now...try it's easy to push a cart full of things around vs. an armful of things)  I now have the ability to see myself in the situation and slow down, and re-think what I am doing!  

I now recognize the triggers of compulsive buying/shopping—inability to tolerate negative feelings, need to fill an internal void, perfectionism, need to gain control, avoiding conflict, not communicating, rebeling against authority, the mindset of I deserve it, I work hard for it, etc. etc. If I was mad or upset, then I would buy instead deal with the conflict. Feeling guilty about being a working mom would also bring about buying. Most of it is a release from the pressure of trying to handle it all.

Any kind of addiction is a sickness and a vicious cycle. I kept thinking that I would take care of it and stop. But stress =  binge. Then I would see the statement balance, and think, 'oh, I'll pay it off, or I'll do this grandiose plan, or I'll do that grandiose plan.  (grandiose plans are also symptons of ADD/Compulsive buying) 

This addiction or compulsion problem is the same as drinking or drugs—but also different. An alcoholic can never pick up a bottle again, or never enter a bar again. But shopping is different—in that I have to shop, and I have to go in stores—for groceries, diapers, household needs, etc.

This is a daily battle for me.  Especially because I do love to decorate and love to make old things look new. And I LOVE a thrift store.  But now I stick to my allowance, and stay within reason. 

And I still want to change things up in the the kitchen, re-paint the bathroom, paint the entertainment center....You'll read about those things on here on the blog.  It's my hobby.  But the major difference is that my mind is not consumed with those things.  I'll get to those things at some point, when the time and money are right.  It's just not that important to me. 

One side-effect of the medication is loss of appetite.  I have lost some weight since June.  Yes, this is a bonus.   And yes, I do eat. In the past, me and hubby's running joke is that he eats to live, and I lived to eat.  Now...I eat to live.   The only reason I mention it here, is that my weight loss is asked about a lot. And there is just no short answer to the reason. The medication is not for weight loss purposes, and never was intended for such.

And I know there are some anti-drug people out there...and that is great.  But I went 31 years without medication and was just muddling (is that a word) through life in a crazy fog.  I choose this treatment.  It's not for everyone, but right now, it's for me.

I am thankful to my husband for supporting me through this year,  and I am thankful that God put the right people in our path.  I love you honey!!! And don't worry--I have his complete support in airing out this dirty laundry.
I am looking forward to continued 'sober' shopping in 2010, and ready for what God has in store for us.

And if I happen to come across a triple bookcase for $50, then I'll be ecstatic.  If not, that's ok, too. 

And if you are struggling with any kind of demon, please know that there is help out there!   Just ask a pastor, counselor, your spouse...anyone.  Just asking for help is a HUGE step.  It was for me.  It's never too late. 

Make 2010 your best year!


  1. I can relate to your blog in many many ways. I too suffer from the same addictions and have allowed life to control me instead of me controlling life. I look forward to 2010 with and without the challenges to come because I feel that I'll be better equipped to weather life without the anxiety taking over.

  2. Jude, you are an amazing woman. We are all so proud of you.

  3. Wow, thanks for opening up and sharing your story~I loved reading about your journey.

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