In my last post about ADHD, I talked about my history, the diagnosis process, and the treatment that I decided to pursue. Since that post, I have started listening to the ADHD ReWired podcast by Eric Tivers. The first episode could summarize my last post in its entirety. Give it a go, if you choose (it’s only 34 min. long).
This post will tackle more tricky subjects than the last; I still wrestle with some of them every day. It’s also taken longer to write partly because of the holidays, but also because the things I’m talking about are more personal than the last and I was struggling with how much to share in a public setting. I hope to be more candid in the future to help others on their journeys, but right now, this is my comfort level.
Thanks for your patience!
Learning How to Drive Again
Let’s get the hardest section out of the way first. I want to talk about how I saw myself pre-diagnosis and how that’s changed since. I haven’t changed who I am, what I believe in, or what I like to do. I have changed/am changing the way I perceive many aspects of my actions and am learning how to handle feelings and thoughts that before treatment would have resulted in a depression-like state.
I thought that a lot of the things I struggled with or that I found difficult were just character flaws. If I worked on them hard and long enough, they would eventually work their way out, and I would be a better person. For a few of those things, that was true. However, most of them were directly related to my ADHD. For example, I thought that I was:
- Addicted to video games.
- Incapable of finishing projects.
- Always taking on too many projects.
- Constantly overwhelmed.
- Unable to do anything about being overwhelmed.
- Too busy but never had anything going on.
- Unable to get organized no matter how hard I tried.
On top of those things, I was:
- Always striving to be perfect, but missing.
- Feeling like I was a failure because I wasn’t perfect.
- Never able to do anything right.
All of which can easily explained by having ADHD.
Knowing that I have ADHD helps me identify things that are caused by the ADHD and make accommodations. It also helps me realize what things I can control so I can better focus my self-improvement energies.
If you’re curious about how ADHD impacts someone, watch this:
Now that I know I have ADHD and can recognize when it’s impacting my behavior, it also means that it’s become a de facto reason why things go wrong. For example (none of these things happened, but they’re all similar to something that did):
- Why do you have so many partially-finished blog posts?
- I have problems with the executive functions related to staying on task. I easily get bored with one thing and start working on something else.
- Why is insert thing here in insert place/state here ?
- Oh, I forgot that I was doing task, so the thing is still at place/in state because I lost track of what I was doing.
- Do you know you’ve been playing video games for 8 hours without moving?
- I haven’t been…. Oh, wait. It’s been 8 hours!? How’d that happen?
- Why are you sixteen pages into Reddit when you were insert task here ?
The answer to all of those situations is “I have ADHD and have problems with executive functions.” To most of you reading, that probably doesn’t seem too bad. But to many people I have to interact with on a daily basis, ADHD something everyone has sometimes and doesn’t exist.
Sometimes, when something I do (or more often, don’t do) causes me to admit that I have ADHD, I get “oh, we’re all a little ADD sometimes,” or “I’m not sure that exists, you just forgot” as responses. Yes, I did forget, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Sometimes I have no choice but to forget.
There’s also a stigma in our society about people realizing that they need and seeking help for a mental illness. Whether that help is therapy or medication, there is an expectation that having to treat a condition somehow makes you weak, less of a person, broken, or incapable of handling complex or difficult situations.
All of which are false. In fact, the opposite is true. That’s not what I’m writing about today, though. Perhaps it’s a discussion for another time.
Those are some of the things I’ve been struggling with lately. Knowing that I have ADHD and that my brain works in a way that’s different than what society considers normal has been helpful in refining the lens through which I view the world.
Coping Strategies Outside Medication
On the bright side, I have found a community of people who are struggling through the same things as me. Some of them have been at it a lot longer. Some are doctors, some are therapists, all of them have ADHD or some kind. I have found a Reddit community (https://adhd.reddit.com), a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/howtoadhd), and a podcast (http://adhdrewired.com) geared toward, created by, and created for people just like me.
Some of the things that I’ve started doing that help a lot are:
- Keeping a bullet journal.
- Using the Pomodoro Method at work.
- Reducing the number of screens I use at work to one.
All of which have helped me a TON with work. But what about in my non-work life?
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of time for that lately since I’m training to become a firefighter. BUT, I would not have been able to handle firefighter class + station events + work + home life + chores without my Bullet Journal, treatment, and support from others in my life. The BuJo has been so incredibly helpful with my likelihood to 1) remember things, 2) get things done, and 3) follow through with commitments.
If it gets written down, it gets done, or not forgotten at least. It’s that simple.
I still struggle with failing and beating myself up about it, but I’m getting better at coping. I have started leaning into the communities I have found to connect with people struggling with the same things. I have learned that by passing on “Quarters of Resilience” I remember that failure is temporary, everyone falls short sometimes, and it doesn’t define me.
I’m still working on things like recognizing when I need help, asking for help, acknowledging my shortcomings, apologizing too much, expecting perfection from myself, and trying to juggle everything at once. Luckily, I’ve found good resources and communities to help me along my way.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all sometimes struggle in life. For some of us, the struggles are more difficult to overcome. If you’re struggling now, know that there are others who have dealt with or are dealing with something like what you are. I’ve found them, and they’re quite helpful.