I have the attention span of a gnat and I am very forgetful. It doesn’t take much to totally derail me from whatever task I’m currently doing. In fact, when I started writing this post yesterday, I realized half way through that the topic was not what I originally intended. I had to start over.
For the last year I have been largely ignoring the fact that I was diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD to all us cool kids. The signs were all there and sure, I joked that I was ADD like a lot of people who are scattered, distracted, unfocused, and well, parents. But for me, it has become more than that and I’ve come to realize that I’ve struggled with it for most of my life. ADHD in adults can be characterized by:
- difficulty focusing
- chronic boredom
- low self-esteem
- chronic lateness and forgetfulness
- poor organizational skills
These are just a few of the characteristics and the list already describes me to a T. My work and relationships throughout my life have been negatively affected by this disorder. I had difficulty maintaining friendships when I was younger mostly because I got bored. Not with the friends but with myself. If I didn’t feel like I was bringing the excitement to the friendship, I just bowed out. I jumped from job to job to job before Generation Y made it cool. I just never felt settled, like I was always looking for the next big thing. I constantly start projects and never finish them. I get hot for a sport or a hobby only to drop it faster than you can say hot potato. I feel like my brain is full of white noise.
Now that I’m aware of this disorder and it’s effects on my life I realize that it’s not just me being “quirky.” I can try to manage the behaviors that drive me and everyone else around me nuts. The hardest part that I’m working through, and the part that has made me accept that I need to start doing something about it, is being a mom with ADHD. When you’re parenting a little one it can be hard enough to herd them and get them to finish a task, like for example brushing teeth at bedtime. Too many bedtimes have taken way too long because I’ll get Zoey started in the direction of the tooth-brush only to have my husband find us 15 minutes later fiddling around with her necklace collection or her Polly Pocket dolls-teeth still not brushed, PJs still not on.
My husband tries to keep me focused by telling me to do just one thing at a time. It’s a great idea. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. It’s almost painful to think about the concentration it would take to focus. And I feel like I’m dragging Zoey along this path with me. Not that ADHD is contagious or something like that. It’s just that I feel like I’m setting her up for bad habits.
The good news is that there are steps I can take to help manage it. I’ve tried some medication for the treatment of ADHD and it seems to work ok. It tweaks me out a little at first, but then it levels out and I get an AMAZING amount of stuff done. The only problem is…wait for it…I forget to take it. It’s also a controlled substance so in order to get a refill I need to go in person to my doctor’s office and get a paper prescription-every time. Not always convenient. Or easy to remember.
For now I’m struggling to find strategies that keep me at least organized. I cannot tell you how overwhelmed and anxious I am every time I go through Zoey’s school folder and see all the notices and forms waiting for me. Not to mention all her new activities that I need to remember. Lists and calendars are my friends. If you need me to do something, be somewhere or pick something up at the store for you, you better make sure that you see me write it down or put it in my phone. I will forget. Or overbook myself for that day, thinking in my white noise addled brain that sure I can run seven errands with traffic before I need to be at your house for dinner with a desert baked and frosted. (Helpful hint: I’ll be late.)
The key thing for me now is that I’ve asked for help–from my doctor and my family–and I’m working on it. When you can’t focus, you can’t do everything by yourself. And what seems like a good idea at the time, sometimes needs to be reined in and thought over. Like for example, the new carpet and flooring I decided we needed this weekend in our entire house. I booked the appointment for Saturday, called my husband to tell him to be home, had it installed on Monday. And now on Tuesday, yeah, we don’t love it. Maybe I shouldn’t have rushed it. Oh well. I said I was getting help, not that I was perfect.
And yes, I stopped 543 times while writing this post to check my email and my faceb…ooh! Waffles!