I don’t write a lot about being AD(H)D (H in parenthesis because technically ADD (without the hyperactivity) was taken out of the DSM and is instead “ADHD without physical hyperactive symptoms” or something, which seems pretty stupid to me since that is essentially “ADD” but I didn’t write the manual so, whatever. :P). Mostly I think it’s because it is part and parcel of who I am so I don’t think of it much as a disease or an issue or anything, it just is. However, there are times when I get pretty frustrated with the scattered rapid fire pattern of my brain and the forgetfulness issues. Since being a mom it has been GREAT because I can blame any random mood swings, forgetful behavior, or general untidiness on “mommy brain”. I love mommy brain. BUT, when I am honest with myself, it isn’t always mommy brain’s fault, I was like this pre kids. In fact, I was WORSE pre kids because I didn’t have kids helping me toe the line AND giving me a creative/spontaneous (sometimes a little too spontaneous) outlet 24/7.
How bad you ask?
Let’s take a look at college. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I’m a decently smart individual. I graduated with a 3.85ish GPA in three years instead of four. Not too shabby. First year went pretty well, although in order not to forget important information I used sticky notes placed inconveniently on my computer screen. every time I sat down I would go, “What the crap is this….oh…right, I forgot.” But, as is typical, I eventually ran out of sticky notes and forgot to replace them, or got bored with the system, or something and by the last year things got a little nuts. I forgot to write a midterm paper until 2 hours before it was due. Yup. 2 hours before I had to hand it in my brain was like, “Oh hey, today is….. don’t you have that paper that is 30% of your grade due?” Thankfully, I write most of my papers in my head before committing them to paper and two hours was juuuust enough time for me to cram four sources into six pages and print it out in the computer lab of the building I had my class in. Oh and there was that one time that I made it all the way through an excruciatingly boring class of presentations and when time was finally up the teacher said, “Ok, Sarah you’ll just have to go next class since we ran out of time today.” My stomach turned to instant lead. I hadn’t even read the book for the project and I was scheduled to present in that class. Or, my favorite mark of ADD shame, how about that easy A class that I got a C on due to my lack of participation in the discussion board portion. By lack of participation I mean I completely forgot the board existed for the entire semester.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
Is it any wonder people with ADHD are moody?
Moving on, here’s an area that people who live with ADHD individuals probably cite as a constant source of annoyance-I have an inability to finish things. I wrote an entire post about my struggle with cleaning in particular here. It isn’t that I don’t feel a sense of accomplishment when I DO finish something, it’s just right at the end of a project or chore, when I’m in the homestretch, I am suddenly filled with an indescribable loathing for whatever it is I am doing at that exact moment. It is a full body abhorrence, an excruciatingly intense feeling of I SHOULD BE DOING ANYTHING BUT THIS! It is rather difficult to push through. If I manage to push through it and complete a task I am on cloud nine-but honestly sometimes I don’t want to tell people (even though I really, really want to tell someone) because when I get all excited about doing a complete load of dishes people don’t really get it. I mean, they’re happy for me, but they don’t realize that a complete load of dishes is like an addict being clean for two weeks.
So, with all of the above in mind, I am in the midst of a 30 day challenge that is making me laugh a bit at myself. I am doing the “30 Day Push” by Chalene Johnson and it is all about a system of organization centered around goals and ToDo lists. It makes me laugh because even this basic system is waaaaaayy too complicated for my scattered brain, or at least it is too fast paced to stick. But I’m doing it, just, modified… and slower. I like her “carefully crafter and diligently maintained” list method, I like a lot of her points on confidence and planning, but ain’t no way in H E double hockey sticks that I am doing TEN things on a TODO list everyday. 10! HA! I may build up to 10 eventually but, dude, just setting one thing I have to do in a day stresses me out a bit. And she has this Push goal idea for your goals which is an excellent idea but seriously, my main goal is just to maintain the ToDo list and BELIEVE ME this is huge. She uses the example of brushing your teeth as an ingrained habit you don’t even think about, and I had to laugh. I LOATHE brushing my teeth. I prefer to do dishes, seriously. There is something mindnumbingly ridiculous about being chained in front of a sink for two full solid never ending minutes while I scrub icky goopy wet gross around my teeth with a tiny brush and try not to drool. The whole process is revolting and BORING. I am- sorry to gross everyone out- not a consistent teeth brusher. I try. I do try. Especially as an example to the boys, but honest to goodness I do NOT remember to do it everyday. So, what habits do I have? Consistent habits? Well. I forget to get all the way dressed some mornings, I forget to shower, I forget to eat, I forget things on my grocery list, I forget to put on deodorant, I forget to switch the laundry, I forget to put the parking brake on – I have even forgotten to put the car in park before turning it off…. I don’t have many habits. At least, not consistent ones. I have almost habits, that I USUALLY remember. I have routines that help me remember these habits. But developing a habit takes a long, long, long, long, long time for me…and I generally resist the entire time.
The only habits I have now are ones centered around the boys, and they aren’t so much ingrained and easy, they’re more endurable and inevitable. I don’t forget to feed the boys because they remind me and I have to, but some days I hate it. I hate the repetition of making food and cleaning the dish afterwards. I hate that I have to do this same boring repeat work AGAIN and there is no forseeable break in the future. And then other days it isn’t so bad and I do it without a thought. Having Cade and Zane has put ME on a schedule and as much as I chafe and fight about it some days, those days are like every 2 days out of 10, the rest of the time I am loving the peace and reliability a schedule gives me. I get more done. I forget less. My ADD isn’t gone, but it doesn’t rule my life because I refuse to let it rule the boys’.
So even though this challenge is all about pushing your boundaries and all the Push goals I’ve seen listed are about expanding businesses or getting out of debt or publishing a book or any number of great, exciting, monumental challenges and dreams – I’m tackling normalcy. And since being a little girl told by her teachers that she was lazy, or accused of cheating because of the inconsistent nature of her work, to an adult stressing over the practical applications of being a paramedic because she knew it would take awhile to calm her brain down enough to really master a skill – being near normal has been the biggest dream I have. If I get too stressed I play something silly with the boys, or put only two things on my ToDo list for the next day. I’ve been running fairly consistently lately (4-5 times a week) which has helped with moodswings, and thanks to this Push challenge I really am getting more things done then I EVER thought possible. You guys, I vacuum the living room and kitchen three times a week and the hall and bedrooms every Saturday. I’ve done this for two weeks now. I am AMAZED at myself. And I love that the living room and kitchen stay a bit tidier because I’m vacuuming regularly (those rooms REALLY need it). Plus, both Cade and Zane love to “help” so it counts towards fun with the boys-always a plus for me,
And maybe, just maybe I can make this a more consistent habit then brushing my teeth.