Posted: April 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I’ve got the beginnings of a curry on the go and I’m pacing back and forth starting one thing and another, sending an e-mail, checking Twitter, watching a couple of minutes of The Sopranos, picking up now Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder’s Thinking the Twentieth Century, now a Czech translation of John Irving’s wonderful A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I failed to finish in English a few years ago. I’m tired. Sleepy, though I had a lie down a little while back. It’s the familiar result of a probiotic drink I had about an hour back. Under researched and often written off as pseudo-scientific nonsense* I get something known as candida die off reaction in a number of situations including when I follow a diet likely to get my ADHD and other conditions including a propensity to depression and a good handfuls of traits of asperger’s syndrome** under control, when I increase my intake of probiotics too quickly, when I stay off alcohol, which like other foods I ought to avoid, has a detrimental affect on my the above conditions, and so on and so forth. When I get through the period of tiredness, irritability, restlessness and anger, that is brought on by the Candida die off, I feel a general sense of wellbeing, my symptoms of ADHD are a great deal better, and I manage to cope with my life for a time. But, life being what it is, sooner or later, I cannot cook, eat well, avoid the long list of trigger foods and drinks, and the cycle starts again.


(People will want to write to me telling me how unscientific I am and how all of the above is in my head. I will go full Hulk. I have not read a couple of articles in the Daily Mail health section or listened to one too many wooly-headed muppets in Holland and Barrett, and though I am not fully committed to the hypothesis I adumbrate above, having considered it thoroughly and from numerous angles, it satisfactory deals with a number of phenomenon I have experienced and observed in others in ways that no competing theory does, and I do not intend to reject it without replacing it with another such, wherever it may come from.)


In any case, I’m not into oversharing or confessionals; it is, unfortunately, necessary to go into things such as ADHD and candida, die off and depression and obsessive tendencies, in order to explain a typical day. Would that this were not so. I would love to be able to exchange pleasantries and who knows what with all comers, talking about my day and my weekend and how it was, but I often find it necessary to obfuscate, be economical with the truth and what not in order to avoid the necessity of avoiding a number of subjects which, though my days cannot be described without them, trigger all kinds of prejudice, as well as highly invidious opinions generally predicated on not the slightest foundation of knowledge. All of which means, that quite aside from the direct social consequences of my condition(s) on my social life and functioning, apart from having to avoid any number of social occasions which would be unthinkable or unbearable without food and drink that would render me unfunctional for days, and in addition to those times where I avoid them rather to indulge myself in the full time job that is maintaining my condition, I sometimes find that I drift further away from people simply because it is no simple matter to discuss how I pass my days or how indeed they are, good or bad.


The curry’s on the go. It’s the first time I have properly cooked here in Prague. Properly cooked, as I would cook in Britain all the while. I found the shops threw me a little. A lot of things aren’t easy to get. I have to think a little more to use what’s on the shelves. And then there’s the fact of the peculiarities of shared housing, and the fact I’m out of the house from early until late most days, come back starving so cooking for an hour or more isn’t much of an option, and needing prepare for the next day’s teaching, which can take a while given my condition, and the fact that preparation is so boring that it’s one of those things that my brain mutinies at the very idea of.


I’ve been doing ok. I wasn’t for a long time. Teaching was getting tiresome. Being out of the house all day was a pain. Having a couple of hours between lessons all the time with no place to be. Not having reliable chunks of time but at weekends to sit down and write, which meant as a consequence, not wanting to get out and meet people even if most of my friends from back in the day weren’t coupled off and divorced and pregnant and spread about all over town in settled little nuclear units. That was getting to me. It’s been slow on the woman front. That was getting to me. One girl who had seemed interested, and who had certainly interested me, a television presenter I had written to on a whim, and who had written back a number of times, had cooled off a little after a date which had been so long in coming, with her having decamped to the South most weekends, and the only other woman on the scene was one who was near-stalking me despite my evident lack of interest. Always very much content in my own company, I had convinced myself once again that the coupled off paradigm was obviously the way it was all meant to be and that I was in danger of being left on the shelf. At one and the same time I had practically cut out alcohol, a result of those late nights planning for the next day’s teaching and those weekends of respite from the world as a whole, and, in addition to that, a treatment I’d got for the fungal toe nail infections I’ve had for up to twenty years, and which are often implicated in the whole candida picture, I was regularly getting irritable, restless, depressed and brittle of focus; I was waking up tired and achy, part of the whole die off picture. (The nail treatment ties in and I could again and again observe the effects kicking in an hour or two after application.)


Whatever, today I’m pretty sharp. Friday was a bad day. Rushing from school in the morning to my Czech English exchange lesson with a lady who works as both a Czech teacher and a proof reader, and who brings short stories and the like to analyse, as well as looking over essays and the like I write, I stopped in for a KFC. There was that, some sweetened tea, and some kind of yoghurt covered dried raspberries or something. That was enough to send me into a fever of two minute activities all evening. Two minutes guitar, two minutes of writing scattered notes for letters to ADHD specialists and anyone who is anyone who might be able to refer me to one of the same, two minutes of the Irving book, two minutes of Tony Judt, two minutes of Sopranos, and over and round again, like a convection current, the novel riding to the top before cooling off and falling down to loop around again.


Friday evening last thing, tired out and more than a little frustrated, I wrote what couple of sentences I could in the Czech diary I keep, picked out a couple of running socks and chucked them on the floor where I couldn’t miss them. The next day would start differently. Consequently yesterday I woke around half eight, had a drink of water, pulled on the socks, shorts and a t-shirt, tied my keys into the drawstring of my shorts, pulled on my shoes, and got out for a run. Same routine today. Yesterday too, out to the library with a limited number of books, to work on a translation I’ve been working on for some years, initially as some kind of a heuristic to keep my Czech up, now as an attempt at getting it published.


The concentration isn’t so much the problem. That you can’t explain to people. That’s why I pick and choose who I come out to, who I can be bothered arguing with. I have a lot of criteria. Most of you wouldn’t make the grade if I’m honest if we were to meet in public. I’m choosy. I’m cynical. And I’ve experienced the same thing over and again too many times to want to come across it again. People feel like they know ADHD. They’ve seen episodes of the Simpsons dedicated to it. Some editorial about how it comes from kids being dragged up in front of the TV accords with their worldview. They understand it from the title: it does what it says on the tin. If you were to learn a language, you could do a hell of a lot worse than to dedicate fifteen minutes thirty times a week to it. In fact, you’d likely progress faster than many of your peers who tried to do it in larger chunks less often. Similarly, if I were to dedicate what concentration I have to whatever single project I happen to be working on at one time, I would have had at least three novels written by now. The problem is more that a project nearing completion is seldom interesting to the ADHD mind. A project nearing completion has been completed to that mind a long time before. Whether it is down on the page is of little significance.


I’m working on a novel at the moment. I’m working on a lot of things at the moment, but I am certainly working on a novel. In what little time I have. Using what is left of my concentration after my intellectually demanding job, and using what is left of my time after all the strategies I have to employ to maintain my condition at a level that I can function at all. The thing is, that, even at the slow rate that that novel would progress if I were working on it as the one project in my life, it would move forward at a decent rate, one that might even satisfy me in my more realistic moments. But, I have ADHD. What is depressing is that I cannot know that this is the book I will finish. That this book, as yet unnamed, will prosper in a way that those sprawling epics known under working titles such Family Fortunes and Call Them Soldiers, which had countless characters who were known to me, intricate plots that had arcs and tied together at the right moments, and whose scenes and dialogues I had gone over again and again in my mind, did not. I cannot know that this will be the one. And so, even because of the effect that brings to my motivation, it may one day soon begin to slip away from me.


But then, there’s always the hope. I have just written this post straight through, with not one Walter Mitty fantasy I can remember, not a single distraction that set me off for hours at a time, not a word finding difficulty that triggered a series of internal dialogues and reveries. I have, this weekend, accomplished a hell of a lot. I have managed my time well. I even put my washing in the machine, though I haven’t taken it out these several hours later. I have my curry on the stove. I have written e-mails both work-related and personal. One was even to the girl from the TV, who seems of late to be feeling pretty communicative again. I’m on the other side of that die-off hell, the sun is shining, and it’s pretty good all told.


However many times it’s all turned to shit, there has always been that hope. There has always been that getting back on the horse. There has always been a determination to fight and to take whatever knocks are going to come. That is what makes a writer, and that is why this novel, or the one after it, is going to get written, is going to get published, and is gong to pull Family Fortunes and Call Them Soldiers and all the rest of them behind in their wake until nobody knows just what hit them. You can choose to believe it or not. That is a choice every one of us can make.


* as will be the case until funding is found for research, which is often problematic where there is little chance of a resultant pharmacological opportunity, and where indeed other financial big hitters such as the food industry, may be adversely affected.


** These were more than traits up until my mid twenties when I started to read about the connection between nutrition, the sympathetic nervous system, and the neurodevelopmental disorders I describe above.


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