Sorry, Not Sorry: Getting To Know Me With Me With ADHD

I’ve been reading Order from Chaos by Jaclyn Paul and I’m realizing how negatively ADHD, as well as auditory processing disorder (APD) have impacted me. People often misunderstand the struggles I have because they aren’t struggles for them. ADHD was presented to me during my Auditory Processing Disorder evaluation. At the time I wholeheartedly denied the possibility. After I did some research, things about my life began making much more sense. I haven’t gone for an official diagnosis. I could, but I already know one of my children has it. I’ve always been the type of person that once I know something I can adjust my life to meet the challenge. I just need the words to articulate what’s going on.

There’s a lot about myself I haven’t loved and now I know why and can do something about it. I understand that I am not a defective human that is lazy and never really grew up. 

This additionally comes with the realization that I’ve mistakenly placed the same negative ideas in the heads of my children that have APD or ADHD.  Repeatedly I’ve heard, absorbed, and believed that people not doing things means it’s not a priority for them. This idea was placed on me many times, even if I didn’t feel like I felt that way. Now I have to unlearn it and teach my children to unlearn it. 

I am not a big believer in using pharmaceuticals for myself. Tylenol is about as hardcore as I will go most of the time. Don’t get me wrong; I believe medicine has its place. I just don’t like taking it. 

Jaclyn says “Medication gives you a choice where you didn’t have one before. You’re still responsible for making the right choice…Meds make it possible to do the hard work of building a good life. They don’t do the work for us, they only make the work as easy or hard as it is for everyone else.” (Jaclyn Paul p.18)

I did find something naturopathic called Synaptol that works for me and I’ve been happy with my decision to go that route. This isn’t to discourage anyone who has made another choice. That’s just how I’ve operated a good chunk of my adult life and it has served me well. Even with my personal convictions, I knew I couldn’t continue on the path I was on without something to help. 

I’ve felt misunderstood for a lot of my life, even by those that love me. The amount of times I’ve been called heartless or uncaring, or that I’ve failed to meet someone else’s expectations out of my own inability can’t be assigned a number. Even without ADHD my life would be difficult for someone to juggle.  

I’m a wife and a mother of five, with two deaf children and four homeschoolers. I am also a worship interpreter which requires committing hours of prep to being ready for Sunday service. That includes scouring Youtube for resources, translating music from English to Sign Language, and practicing. 

I’m also the Deaf Ministry leader for my church. Besides my own interpreting duties, I am coordinating the other things needed to serve the deaf community in our church and as well as teaching a class. Alongside those duties I have to manage my home and care for the needs of my aging mother. 

This isn’t me looking for validation in all the “awesome” things I’m doing. It’s painting a picture for how it’s a wonder I remember to do anything at all, let alone do it well. “But sometimes I don’t feel like a good friend. I wish I could remember this stuff on my own. No matter how much I love you, without my calendar and to-do list you’d get the impression I never thought of you at all.” (Jaclyn Paul p.83 ) This quote resonated with me because regularly I feel like I’m failing as a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, and cousin. 

Off and on I’ve done well with routines, calendars, and checklists. The problem is that once something in my life goes completely off the rails, my neatly ordered system goes along with it. The last 8 months of my life have probably been the most obvious change, although it still hasn’t been without disappointment. I utilized the Learn, Do, Become system. That has taught me valuable skills and pieces of my life I couldn’t get under control suddenly started coming together. 

I also let go of my HGTV dreams and got a book called Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD. Let me tell you just the revolutionary idea to no longer fold clothes and towels has gained hours back into my life. That one small changed has staved off so much anxiety and allowed me to let go of cultural norms. Who knew that laundry could actually be washed, dried, and put away all in one day?

My next step will be decluttering even more than I did earlier this year. The Minimal Mom talks about how her family got rid of 80% of their stuff, and that sounds glorious. I am realizing that although my ADHD contributes to me accumulating stuff, I also hate stuff. I’ve simultaneously come to terms with the fact that I hate for things to be visible. Clear surfaces make my brain happy. Things being neat and orderly behind doors brings the same satisfaction. 

Minimal Mom’s video on how the idea of time impacts our progress was amazing. Being able to process the idea that multiple small amounts of time can be just as productive as large chunks of time is a game changer. Calendar triggers, reminders, alarms, timers,  and checklists are not optional for me. I have seen what my life looks like with and without them. I now recognize that I have to utilize whatever I can for as many areas of my life as possible. If I hear someone has a birthday or is sick and I want to send a card, it needs to go on my calendar or to-do list. If I need to remember to tell my husband about something I saw in an email, it’s an immediate text or a reminder in my phone. 

This is the thing that many people don’t understand. They don’t see that it takes a lot of effort for me to be visibly and physically concerned with things going on in their lives and my own. I want to be, but I have to put in extra work for it to appear as normal as it is for others. “Maybe no one cares how I get there because the end result–someone feeling loved and remembered–matters most. On a good day, I believe that. When I let shame creep in, I see in myself a person who can’t even show the most basic consideration for those I love without an extensive system of calendar reminders, apps, and handwritten notes. ” (Jaclyn Paul p.83 )

I recently spent 3 days away in a hotel all by myself,  rejuvenating and getting some order back in my life. I wanted to detour about 20 minutes on my way home to visit a friend since I was driving right through her town. I mentally thought about it several times, but just as quickly as the thought came it also left. It was 9:30 on the last night of my trip when I finally texted her to ask if I could stop by sometime on my way home in the morning. 

This is what sucks about ADHD. Either you do the task as soon as you think of it, you give yourself a reminder to do it later, or you can forget that the thought ever occurred.  Two minutes or less is my favorite rule for getting things out of my head. If something can be done in two minutes or less and it’s convenient to do it now, just get it done. This has saved me so much brain energy. 

I haven’t found the secret to perfect living, but I am on a slow journey of figuring out what I need in order to be the the best I can and not feel bad about things that are just a part of being that person.  The more I learn the more accepting I am of my individual needs. Is there anything you’ve discovered about ADHD that has improved your quality of life or your understanding of self? ADHD.

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