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The ADHD Dilemma – I'm Behind in a lot of stuff

So here’s the ADHD dilemma.  Or at least, my ADHD dilemma.  I’m behind in stuff.  In a lot of stuff.  Not always.  And not everywhere.  But especially before I got the diagnosis and started working on this, most of the time I was in overwhelm, playing catch-up, handling the next urgent crisis and doing whatever had the next immediate deadline.

I used adrenaline to self medicate.  And it worked.  Mostly.  It worked in the sense that stuff usually got delivered on time.  Seven hundred episodes of television and radio were delivered on time, because, well, they had to be.  There was a deadline.  And no broadcaster is willing to put nothing on the air. ‘Battle of The Test Patterns’ is not going to fly with anyone.  So it had to be delivered and it was.

Family vacations I promised to be part of, visits with friends, commitments to clubs or family or even proposals for new ideas and new programs… all those fell by the wayside. Bills and paperwork?  When it got bad enough, it got handled.  Again, adrenaline.

Now I’m putting structures in place.  Routines to handle the routine stuff, the boring stuff, the stuff I am not good at.  I’m handing things off, or breaking them down, or hiring someone else to do it. 

And I’ve resisted hiring someone, because, well, it’s boring, routine stuff, I should be able to do that when I’m tired and need a break, some kind of mindless activity.  But doing tax paperwork is not mindless.  It takes concentration and a level of interest I can’t muster.  No matter how hard I try.

What’s ridiculous is that I kept trying for decades, convinced I could finally do it, especially once I had the diagnosis. “Ah, now I understand why I hate doing billing and invoicing.  Now I get what’s going on. So now I’ll be able to master it.” Nope.  Not a chance.

Knowing isn’t doing.  If it was, no one would eat too much.  Cause we know it’s not good for us. Knowledge is not power if it just remains information you know. And I know a ton of information.  Especially about my ADHD.

The hardest thing for me these days is letting go of stuff, and not seeing it as a failure, but rather seeing it as a huge weight I’m letting go of, a burden I’m not longer having to carry, and a sword that is no longer dangling over my head waiting for the next urgent letter from the tax department. 

I re-framed it in my mind.  I’m not abandoning this.  Or failing.  It’s actually a gift I’m giving myself.  It costs a bit of money to have a bookkeeper keep my books.  But it costs me that much every month in fines for late filing!  Madness, right?

Are there places where you’re struggling, trying to power your way through, simply because you have that belief that seems so common amongst ADD adults, that you should be able to do this, because it’s simple, and you’re smart, and heck, it’ll actually be a way to build willpower?

What could you let go of? Even better, what would you do with the time and energy you free up?



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  1. Tiddler March 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I was diagnosed 6 months ago and my lifetime of anxiety disappeared instantly. Unfortunately, I then found out that I’d been self medicating with that anxiety since I was about 8 years old and I had NO other coping mechanisms.
    Learning that I cannot push the boulder up the hill hasn’t stopped me trying but I’m hoping that, unlike Sisyphus, maybe I’ll be able to find a way to go round the rock, or even fly downhill with it. In other words, I want to let go of the uphilling and do something different.
    I don’t know what that is yet though…

  2. Tea March 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Depression is a killer for me. Anxiety and ADHD and i run off ..often, but Depression is soo hard todo anything
    i get these insanely vague medical reports and the specialists do not or will not explain so I go to the internet
    and hope google has valid information and then what …tried to sort out the latest confusion
    angiogram shows aneurism, 2007, reported as dilated aortic root, 4.5 cm changed to 4.5 MM … cardio signed off said nothing
    2009 ECG and BP fine, so I assume the dilated aortic root is not an issue unless it enlarges or ruptures ..
    family doctor doesnt know dumped doctor as a waste ..keeps suggesting i try google .. decide to find real md
    2011 diagnosed as having had ADHD and anxiety and depression since childhood … start meds they fail
    2012 get stress test to see if amphetamines work.. test shows dilated aortic root , confirmed by the same specialist
    but no comment rr meds .. he signs off again which means i am back with family md and no further info.
    depression … so fukking tired of chasing doctors to get answers about what i have or what to do about it
    feels like some sort of abusurdist game of ‘Clue’ where the patient has to self diagnose .. maybe reality TV show ??

  3. Amy March 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    My big thing that I wish I could let go of is housework. Cleaning, organizing, putting things away… it’s a HUGE challenge for me and it affects my whole family. They are the little things that people say aren’t important, and I KNOW they really aren’t important in the long run, but they bog me and my family down. We can’t afford a maid or housekeeping service, but yet I still hold myself to this high standard and have a hard time accepting that it’s a hard chore for me.
    If I could free up that time and energy, I would probably do more creative projects around drawing and music. http://acatwithadhd.com is my recent sketch/blog that I’ve created because I can do it in little time. There are more challenging and bigger projects I would love to take on (or finish!).
    Thanks Rick for sharing your thoughts & creativity with us. :)

  4. munchkin March 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I am just starting to realize how difficult it is for me to come to terms with my true abilities. I have so much I CAN do – yet I still haven’t truly organized my life in terms of that concept.
    Next job – inventory of life, reallocation of resources to accentuate the positive :) It’s hard to let go of things that I feel are a moral imperative like housecleaning… but, I’m not getting it done anyway, so let’s get some help and not kill ourselves from choking on dust…
    I’d love to inject some physical activities and music!! (don’t try bowling & playing sax at the same time – it’s dangerous) It’s hard to explain that I’m walking the dog instead of doing the dishes – like of course I would pick the fun thing. But.. I could stand there failing to get the dishes done, or actually follow through with the dog walking – makes sense to me, but will other people misunderstand?

  5. Ina Haze March 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Whoa, wait a minute…. you mean, getting diagnosed and on meds doesn’t autmatically turn us into detail oriented geniuses with impeccable judgement and timing? No Fair!!

  6. atldrm March 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Such validating words!
    Thank you for sharing what my head has been spinning for months.

  7. crystalsphinx March 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    What you said is exactly like my life has been and still is. Thank you for posting .

  8. Rick March 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I’m glad this resonates with so many of you. Love the feedback.
    Love what you wrote, Ina Haze, cause every time I get on a roll, every time I start having a few successes, and sticking to my diet, doing my exercise, I’m convinced, that’s it, it’s all clear sailing from here.
    Then when one thing goes wrong, or falls by the wayside, I have this incredible habit of letting it derail me completely. Or I used to do this. It happens far less often, because now when I get derailed, I have a new strategy. In the past my mind would go to where it usually goes, “Y’see, you blew it, you were kidding yourself, you’ll never change, you’re not capable of…” BLAH BLAH BLAH.
    Now I express it, aloud, to Ava. “I just realized I haven’t done daily my sit-ups and pushups for five days!” And she’ll say, “Well, you’ve been busy and we were on the road, so your routine got interrupted. You can start again.”
    Funny how someone else can be much easier on us than we are. There is a ton of wisdom in that phrase, “You are your own worst enemy.” It’s true. Until I change that ‘self-talk’, I can never make the changes I want to make. It starts there. And belief really is 90% of the battle. In fact, if I don’t believe, it’s 100% of the battle and I’ve lost no matter what I do.

    • drofnas October 14, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      That last paragraph…oh yeah!
      Diagnosed late in life, I’m having to grind off some of the old coping skills. I’m learning new skills but miss the “adventure(?)” of the old and unreliable. Guess it’s time for bigger adventures.

  9. Steed March 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    You got me at the title!

  10. olsonpb October 14, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    “Even better, what would you do with the time and energy you free up?”
    Best unanswered question I know of.
    When food and shelter is covered, but thanks to symptoms of adhd, you still have never been able to leave the “survival” and protective mode, involving all those other survival needs that require people, self (and time) awareness, as well as purpose, that question is an unknown and unbalanced teeter-totter between what can and can’t I do vs what can and can’t I foresee.

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