The year is at its end… And I felt like I am too

By Rick Green, Rick Green, Symptoms of ADD

One year wraps up and a fresh new year debuts.

Or, depending on your state of mind, one year staggers on it’s last legs as another lurks, ready to pounce!
Lately it’s felt more like the second version.

SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME

I need to be 5 different people.  Or hire 5 different people!
The overwhelm I have been feeling over everything that needs doing finally forced me to actually use some of the ADHD tools I have learned.
(ASIDE: Why is it I only turn to the tools when I’m in overwhelm?  Rather than use them all the time? Sigh!)

I SHOULD KNOW BETTER

After-all, the stuff I learned in Linda Walker’s course, The Maximum Productivity Makeover For Creative Geniuses will transform the overwhelm, clarify what needs doing, help me prioritize what to do first, and make sure I’m staying on track.

The course got me to appreciate how I worked, when I was most productive, when I needed to switch to mindless, non-creative stuff.  Funny, I’ve been working for 35 years and was never really aware of my own rhythms.

What’s so frustrating is that I have all of the tools I learned in Linda’s course, plus dozens of tricks and practices I have found over the years—some were learned before I was diagnosed, some I discovered afterwards.

In fact, Patrick McKenna and I put 36 of our favourite tools and strategies together in our new video, ADD & Mastering It!.  Clearly I know what to do.

THE ‘DO’ BRAIN CHEMICAL

But knowing and doing, are two every different things, right?  We all know how to lose weight.  Or save money.  But knowing and doing…. There’s a disconnect.
ADHD involves difficulty doing what needs doing.  You know what to do, but can’t.
One of the key neurotransmitters involved in ADHD is Dopamine.  By coincidence, the first two letters of this brain chemical explain it’s effect.  ‘Do.’

Dopamine helps us ‘Do’ things, get moving, get started, and keep going.  I know all this, yet, here I am, struggling to ‘do’ what needs doing, starting that disheartening slide down into overwhelm and then despair… Then I did something smart.  I talked about it with Ava.  I got out of my head.  She listened, mostly.  Saying it aloud broke the hold it had on me.

A PAUSE, A DEEP BREATH, A WARM DRINK

I took a break.  Made a coffee.  (Decaf) Looked for a cookie.  (Couldn’t find any I like.  Cinnamon? Yuck.)
Then I made an agreement with myself to write three paragraphs of a Blog.  Just three.  “I can manage that.”  Despite having a thousand things to do.
One word lead to another, ideas started flowing… I was doing and enjoying!   I kept doing and now… I’m done!  The sun has set but my mood is infinitely brighter.  I’m awake, engaged, in action…MOMENTUM!  What should I do now?  (Oh, right, my list of To-Dos will know.)

WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE?

A complete turnaround, all because I went from stewing to doing.
One small step.
I believe it’s tip number 17 of 36 in ADD & Mastering It!
I should watch that more often. (Blush)

5 Replies to “The year is at its end… And I felt like I am too”

  1. Christmas in my family is always a series of wars. We know that Mom has severe ADHD (along with depression, anxiety, and OCD), but she refuses to do anything about it. The behaviour that this causes, makes every family get-together an ordeal, especially Christmas.

    This year, I made a plan, and started implementing it a few weeks before Christmas, to get everyone used to the idea. I talked with Mom on the phone, and stressed that she’d trained me well in how to prepare the meal, so she could trust that I could do a lot of the tasks myself. I told her that we’d sit down together and assign the tasks, so we’d each know what had to be done, and we could each follow our own lists. I also stressed that I wanted to do as much advance prep of the Christmas dinner as possible.

    The day before Christmas, my brother & I went out there, and Mom & I made the list. Then, the parentals & my brother went to a Christmas Eve afternoon party, leaving me blissfully alone, to do the tasks on my list. It’s amazing how much you can get done, when you’re not being distracted by someone trying to micro-manage! I completed all of my tasks (and improving on several of the menu items for Christmas dinner), and several others that I knew needed to be done.

    Then, we went out to a restaurant (where I’d made reservations), and we got out the door in plenty of time, and with no fighting. This was because I’d made a schedule, and I gave everyone 15-, 10-, and 5-minute warnings—and coached Mom (usually the one who keeps everyone waiting) through those last few minutes, so she was ready & waiting. I now appreciate what parents go through, to get their kids out of the house on time.

    Christmas Day, I followed my schedule and got up early, prepared the traditional special breakfast (Chelsea buns & ham with peaches), and when Mom came downstairs, I was just about to put the buns into the oven. I calmly showed her what I’d done, and reminded her that she’d trained me well. So, she thanked me for doing it, and left me alone.

    Christmas morning & Christmas dinner went much more smoothly than in the past, though there were still a few minor skirmishes (which I didn’t get involved in).

    Unfortunately, it all came crashing down in a huge war at the end of the day.

    My brother & I collected our things, and headed for the car. Dad followed us into the driveway, and said that, until the end, everything had been great, and I’d done an amazing job. Maybe, it had all just been too much time together, with too much “tradition” to follow. (Gee, do ya think???)

    The ending sucked, but this Christmas was *mostly* a huge improvement.

  2. I feel overwhelmed all the time. I try to take a breath, work on one step at a time, and all the rest of the excellent advice I’ve learned here and through life experience, but I still feel like I’m one misstep from sinking into the black hole of depression and uselessness. I can’t seem to do much about lacking a support system (at least one with a physical presence) and no one I spend time around appreciates my brand of humor, or my other strengths. It just seems like every time I manage to do something about an issue an even bigger hurtle springs up. It’s exhausting.

  3. I use both your PBS movies as background buzz and entertainment when I have to do tidying and filing that otherwise never gets done. It is like a bit of happy solidarity for the fact I have put it off my chores, feel a bit lost and gloomy while I wade on through, and can’t see the end of the tunnel. But hey – at least I did something for a whole hour, and if it is going well I turn on the next film. This technique worked so well my home looked like a real home for Christmas! This is a whole new sensation!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story of overwhelm. One of my great frustrations with ADD is that I so easily forget the little coping mechanisms. I’m just starting to learn what really works for me in getting past overwhelm, but always getting caught by forgetting to engage the coping tricks. Oh well. Life is a process, indeed.

    Larynxa, I have to say, it sounds like you really rocked it this Christmas. Don’t let the “fall apart” at the end diminish your happiness at your success.

    I think with ADD, you have to celebrate every single thing, big or small, that goes right and not dwell on what goes bad. That’s a trick that takes a lot of practice, but it helps.

  5. Someone said, “Five minutes is better than no minutes.” When it comes to inertia, I agree it is worth the Herculean effort to push through the wall of resistance.

    I am not ready for it to be 2013, which feels like such an appalling number, and where are the flying space cars they promised us back in the 1960s?

    On the subject of dealing with “the Holidays,” my feeling, as I rapidly approach my 50th birthday, is that I did my time with my Family of Origin, and am not going to put myself through any emotional ordeal or put up with any weird scenes with another family or anyone else. What for? So, my solution was to more or less ignore the whole thing. There’s nothing to be gained from trying to make a broken situation not broken. Feels like a good time to discard the non-essentials.

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