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Friday, July 2, 2010

My bvFTD Symptoms - Apathy To-Do

Motivation. To do, or not to do. To-do!

(Everything here is my account of what happened to me, or my interpretation of stuff. Every case of FTD is different. Keep in mind as you read this that the person who wrote this has dementia.)

I guess this apathy-thing needs another look. A comment on Apathy got me thinking about motivation, and reaching the threshold that initiates an action. What is it that make me do some things, and not others?

Well, first off there are good days, and days that are not so very good. My neurologist said I should expect to have some days which are more difficult. On those days I just take the day off and watch the grass grow. On days when I have cotton in my Lime Jell-O that is the best, and safest, course of action - or inaction.

Socialization is in a class by itself. It is surly at least partly related to apathy, but I think interacting with others is so reliant on emotions, and communication, and interpreting both that other factors may have a greater influence than Apathy. It just isn't the same as weeding the garden. There is much more emotional, and even cognitive, engagement necessary.

I read in What If It's Not Alzheimer's that apathy can be offset by another symptom - compulsive behavior. The comfort of sticking to a routine is highly motivating. Though in the context of the book it is described in the later stages of bvFTD.

I appear to be in the early stages. I do have apathy, and it does contribute to making it impossible to get things done in a normal amount of time. My ADHD-like symptoms, and cognitive decline also play a big part. Stuff is more difficult across the board, and I think we all try to avoid doing difficult stuff whenever we can. I just carry that a little farther.

Here in the house I have lived in for over 25 years I am in a highly structured environment. I know just where everything is (mostly!), and just what needs doing, and when, and how. I have all of the comfortable routines of the day-to-day stuff already built in. The routine itself seems to be a motivator, but I am not obsessive or compulsive to any great degree - or at least as I see it not any more than I ever was.

At this stage in my FTD it does not always take something huge to get me doing things. My to-do list is what gets me through right now on the day-to-day stuff. I make a list every day, or every few days, and cross things off as I get them completed.

I LOVE crossing stuff off my to-do list!

It give me a sense of accomplishment to cross things off the list. That is a really big motivator in itself. Of course the list also serves as a reminder to keep track of things I need to do.

If I do not get something done I carry it over to the next list. I do not like to do that, so it is a bit of negative reinforcement also. Kind of like nagging.

Writing for this blog is often on my to-do list. It is one of the things that often gets carried over to the next list. There is a note to write about how awesome my son is, but I just can't for the life of me think of anything to say. I wonder who could have added that to my list? Hmmm... after a while if it is something unimportant, and I am carrying it over from list to list, I just take it off my list.

Answering comments is easier. Probably like texting is easier than talking on the phone. Maybe "easier" isn't the right word... "more comfortable" is better. I am notified almost instantly via an email on my cell phone when someone leaves a comment. That is a built in reminder.

I have always been a procrastinator. I have always waited until the last minute to get things done. That was my pattern in school, and at work. I think I thrived under the pressure of the looming deadline.

Now things take longer, and I do not enjoy the stress or pressure like I used to. I think I am a little more worried that I might not be capable of doing stuff quickly at the last minute, so I now prefer to get things done ahead of time. That is a reality I have to make adjustments for. Again this (avoiding stress) in itself is a motivation.

Like everyone, I do the things I enjoy first. Those weeds are really lucky because... I HATE WEEDING!!!!

...but they are on my list.

Comments are welcome.


  1. I like your posts because they're quality and you put thought into them. They have meaning and subtext. It's because you take your time, so I wouldn't say you should feel rushed to ever do em. Once a week or so is prolly best cause it gives you time to focus on a subject and make it a good entry. That being said, I'm sure writing about how awesome your son is would be a hard one to write cause there is just sssoooooooo much material to sift through. But I kno when you get it done it will be done well. Every time I read a post I see part of you in it. How well it's thought out and the subjects you cover are you writing about things that matter to you. And I like that.

  2. Writing about it, and seeing your comment about my weedy garden, has motivated me. This morning I weeded around the tomatoes and the peppers. HAR! The weeds were so tall that I actually pulled out a Jalapeno Pepper plant by accident because I couldn't see it hidden in with the weeds. I replanted it. I think it will survive.

    Yes! BOTH of my sons are awesome. There is no denying that.

    It is difficult to write about the behavioral and emotional problems. They are difficult for me to see, and are more debilitating. As a writer I used to crank out thousands of words in a day. Now it takes many days to write a few hundred. But hey! At least I can still write.

  3. haha I learned the reverse psychology from you!!

  4. You left out the fact that a lot of your weeds are edible and are awesome in salads!

  5. Thanks for the comment, Eileen.

    Yes, sometimes a weed is just a flower in the wrong place. The Yellow Wood Sorrel, Violets, Purslane, and even occasionally the dreaded Garlic Mustard are all regular additions to a good salad. I also have 2 types of Plantain, but I do not care for it. With fresh herbs and lettuce from the garden, and a bright Nasturtium flower or 6 perched on top - it helps make that green healthy stuff almost edible.