Month: January 2014

Just An Introduction: By Mark White

My goal for this blog is to start a community where people with LD/ADHD share their everyday stories. My good friend Mark “Chandler” White has agreed to be the first guest writer to Melonaid! Mark has a lot to provide and I think he will share a lot of great stories with all of us. Enjoy! 

It is almost 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I have an 8 a.m. math class and the dyscalculia in me is dreading it like a plague. Earlier this evening I got a text from a good friend, asking me to contribute to his blog. It got me thinking about a lot of things and is probably the reason I can’t sleep. I thought a lot about how I got to where I am. That thought occurred as I was watching the season finale of American horror story, surrounded by friends, my arm around someone I care about. I’m in two bands, I play bass somewhat decently, and I’m featured on an album. I have beautiful people in my life and I have my health. I’m really fortunate that I’m in this moment. I didn’t let LD stop me even though it almost did sometimes. I’m glad I am experiencing these moments and this life the way I am.

Many variables created this moment. My LD contributed to and created many of the variables and experiences that shaped who I am. I hate compliments with a passion, I don’t believe in them in regards to myself. However I receive them, which I guess means I did something right somehow. I used to think (ok, I still sorta do) think that my LD made me retarded, or stupid. In the grand scheme of things though, I like to think that it’s the actions that define me, not my grades, not my handwriting and not my math skills. Me, my morals and values, the people and things I am passionate about, the most important things to me, are the things that my LD could not touch.

I also hate talking about myself. Which is why I’m finding this blogging thing so hard. But I’ll try, I think what matt is doing is really important, therapeutic and empowering. I hope to contribute some more and maybe share my thoughts, musings and experiences on life with LD.

Mark.

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Running and LD are like peas and Carrots

I don’ t play a lot of sports. Let me rephrase that, I am selective to the sports that I display my athletic ability. Yea that sounds better haha.

Sure I have played little league and soccer when I was longer but everyone in the Main Line area did. I wasn’t good at either of them. For example I was placed in the left field as in little league. Years later I found out from a friend who coaches Little League games that coaches put their worst player out there. And who was the left fielder? Matt Cahill!!!

It was not that I was good athlete or did not have heart, it was that I was bored. My mind wandered all the time. I am sure I lot of my fellow ADHD / LD can relate. When I played soccer I was goalie a few times. I don’t know why I guess it is that they have to allow every kid play or something. Any way, as goalie I stood around while kids where playing soccer on the other half of the field.  Without any action, I got bored. Sometimes I would image if there was like a mini fridge by the goalie net that had an endless supply or Gatorade and Orange slices. When I was switched out, I would tell my teammate about the mini fridge idea. He answered with a blank face probably thinking what is with this kid? It wasn’t that I was trying to be the weird kid; I was just trying to think of ways to make the most of a boring situation.

On the other end of the spectrum, I played Ultimate Frisbee in High School to now. Unlike little league, there was so much activity that kept my mind busy. Catch the Frisbee, throw the Frisbee, play offense, play defense, make sure that guy doesn’t get open etc. My mind was so focused on the game that I was unable to wander with my thoughts. I thought I found a sport that kept me focus. However that was not the case. During several points of the game my mind would wander and wasn’t paying attention and the guy I was blocking would get open and score. At this point I realized that I needed to play a sport that allowed my ADHDness to wander. I did not have to look far, it was what I was doing most of the time Running.

I started running because my Dad thought it would be good for me. As the idea of running around circles may see foreign to you I felt the same at first.  After a few practices, I started to enjoy it. As a finished my first mile, there was a sense of joy and accomplishment that I have not felt a lot of in other sports. But at the time I could not put my figure on it.

As I ran in my High School’s cross country team this joy continued. We ran the trials of beautiful Valley Forge State Park. I felt I was autopilot while I was able to take in the nature and think about whatever thoughts I had that day.

I would later found out that there is two parts of running, physical running and mental running. And I think that suited me and my LD/ADHDness. I able to stay on auto pilot running while I try to mentally stay focused by thinking about the day or what super powers I would have. This might sound crazy to some of you but lets be real running 5-6 miles regularly is crazy as well. I know it and if any runner says otherwise they are lying. But in order to continue running you need to figure out a way to stay entertained and ADHD helps do so!

So when I run, I don’t think about millage but cool and or beautiful routes. Let me give you an example. When my friends run they say, “6 miles” while I say, “you know I have not run with the Italian market.” My friends look at running or physical activity as a destination, I look at it as an adventure.

And I think LD help me appreciate this because wandering allows you to go and discover new places or ideas that are way better then running 6 miles. I am training for the New Jersey Marathon my first one ever. My friends are starting marathon plans with millage. Me, I don’t have the patients for that. Instead like Forest Gump, I just feel like running because what LD showed me that life is about the journey not the destination.

Until next time,

MC

The language of Cahillism: The understanding of my writing and a greater understanding for one another

I am a list maker. It is how I keep track of my daily events. Either I write them on scrap paper or post it note. I write down my list and cross it off as I finish it. When I do laundry, I find old post it notes that have scribble like read ch.12 or buy milk.

Sometimes I mentally make list in my head. It is like the Google Glass my thoughts become a bullet points that appear in front of me. Either way I need my lists because it is how I stay on task during the day.

Plus it is a nice way to show that I completed something on a certain day. For example, I got bored and lazy during winter break. To stay active, I would mentally write, “take out the trash.” Regardless on how lazy I was that day, I was able to tell myself, “well at least I took out the trash.” It’s sort of a way to tell myself that I made a contribution to the society in some small way.

The thing with my list making, like a lot of accommodations, I do it because it works specifically for me. As a result, I can short hand notes, draw pictures or what ever helps me to remember a task. It is sort of my own language, Cahillism or MattHill (the term is still a work in progress). Now this becomes problematic when people are not use to or have not learned my language like my parents.

Last weekend, I was getting ready to start my spring semester at Temple University. My parents were going grocery shopping and asked if I wanted any food for school. Not wasting an opportunity for free food, I told them I would write a list of things I need/what. After I jotted down a few items I left for a run.

When I came back, my parents were couponing and asked me to come over. I was thinking that they needed the trash taken out or to clean out the fridge but neither. When I entered the dining room, they asked me to decrypt the items I listed. The dining room felt like an excavation site and they asked the expert of this ancient language, me, to translate the ancient civilization writing. They waited edgily to learn what was written for the world to know. In this case what did this Great Matt Cahill ask  for at the grocery store? It was not that exciting but if I wanted food, I needed to tell them what I wrote.

Some of the items on the list read like this:

  • Ravzor
  • Gatoraid
  • Totaliny

Now the first two items I listed I got right away. It was razors and Gatorade. The third item took a minute to realize I meant tortellini. I know you and my parents might of been thinking was, “Matt you were way off in the spelling.” And…yes I was in the “English Language” but I was writing this in as if I was the only audience. As a result, I was able to figure out what I meant perfectly fine but my parents did not. I was shocked that after 20 years they did not learn Cahillism (my language). They made a big fuss in me learning the English language it is only fair if they learned mine haha!

If the story has a happy ending it’s this. I got the tortellini or totaliny depending on what language you use. But I learned that list or what ever method helps you remember is good just make sure that other people can understand it as well just in case. You never know it could be a matter of life or death. Now Post it notes have not come out with spell check yet so I am going to spell words the best way I can. But if I give someone a list in the future, I am going to make sure that they can understand. So with every list I give, I would either draw pictures or provide a Cahillism to English translator.

I like to think of it as a game of Pictionary for people just to keep entertained with my writing because at the end of the day, I am going to spell things wrong. Its just a given. But by providing pictures, I can provide people an avenue to understand my writing and me and I hope they do the same for me. If we try to understand one another in turn we will have a greater respect for each other and the world we live in.

Until next time,

MC

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Push vs. Pull

I am 20 years old. I have opened, went through and closed doors. I still don’t know the difference between push vs. pull. It is similar to me reversing “b” and “d”. To this day, I still have to think about which one I want to write. To help me figure out, I used a method called bed. With this method you used you stick you thumbs together to make your left hand look like a “b” and right hand like a “d”.

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I have been using this method since grade school. But for some reason I still can’t figure out push vs. pull. A lot of times, I push a door and it took me several seconds to realize I needed to pull. It is like when a baby tries to put a circle block into the triangle hole. At school there is these giant doors with a small sign of what direction the door goes. And I would say most of the time I move it the wrong way. Once I pulled this push door so hard that I almost broke the door. To make it more awkward there was a line of people behind me waiting for me. They did not say that I was moving it the wrong way. Just watched. I did figure it out but when I could, I wait for someone else to open that door so I don’t get confused again.

I guess it shows how people with LD reverse words and letters around. In this case, I reverse push and pull. I figure a mnemonic devise for push and pull. I think I push someone down the mountain or pull them up. I know there could have been better devises but this is what helps me….sometimes. Most times I forget and push instead of pull. But I think this is important because in this big world we live in, we are unconscious of the little actions in our day. Maybe it helps being aware to lives events. Maybe or maybe not. I know this from my push vs. pull problems, i’ll take a open door over a closed door any day of the week.

Until next time,

MC

Lets talk about the elephant in the room for a minute.

Ahoy!

Now that we have introductions out of the way can I be open with you guys? I am dyslexic. What is dyslexia (LD) you ask? Well here is a nice definition from Merriam-Webster website:

Dyslexia: medical : a condition in the brain that makes it hard for a person to read, write, and spell.

In simple terms, I have a process information very slowly that results in me reading books and writing papers twice as long as a “normal person.” But if the tortoise and the hare taught us anything speed is not the only tool to win the race it is also hard work and a drive to succeed despite what critics say. And I have audio books, extra time and other accommodations that help me in college. But this what I mostly talk about when it comes with my dyslexia (LD). I think it is how definitions like the one I provided categorizes dyslexia. As a medical term.

There is a lot of medical aspects of an LD. Believe me and I have enough brain spans of the people with/without LD to become a pro in it. But I hate for me and others to see LD as only a medical term. To me medical terms are things that are kept in labs to be study be scientists. It makes it seem like it is a cold thing to have that I and others need to show that I “overcome” it in school and in life.

But I hate to brake it to you I don’t want to overcome my dyslexia. Dyslexia is like a childhood best friend. Sure we had our moments and fights but we are  going to be with each other the rest of my life. And I don’t want it any other way.

But the elephant in the room is not that I have a LD it is that no one (to my knowledge) shared the daily life events that makes me and others love being LD. I have seen people tell their LD story and for the most part it is isolated in the lab or the classroom. Just like the Hangover’s Wolf Pack me and my LD go on crazy adventures that I am sad “normal” people cannot experience.

If I have the attention span to keep this blog, this is what I what to do. I want to show people that there is a whole another life of LD besides what a definition says. It lives and breaths and goes on crazy adventures. For people who want to see a LD outside of classroom now is your chance!

Now I am sure some of you are wondering why I titled this blog as Melonaid. It comes from a quote on I saw on a shirt, “when life gives you melons you might be dyslexic.” The quote is a play on words (letters?) with the famous praise, “when life gives you lemons make lemonade” because people with a LD mix up their letters. Side note I meant for the blog to be Melonade but I used the wrong aid. But you know what? I like it! It makes more authentic because only a person with LD can make that mistake. Any who, I hope you enjoy this blog and willing to go these crazy adventures with me. I think you are going to have a good time!

Until next time,

MC