Oh Look! Squirrel!

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
  • anxiety
  • chronic boredom
  • depression
  • impulsiveness
  • low self-esteem
  • chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • poor organizational skills
  • procrastination

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.


Team Uniform
Team Uniform

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!

12 thoughts on “Oh Look! Squirrel!

  1. Belated props to you, Kriste. My younger son has ADHD so I have taken the journey with him. He is one of the most creative, exuberant, life-loving, zesty people I know. So there’s the blessing and the curse — he wouldn’t be the human party that he is without the ADHD. He took meds for years (in school) but has opted not to do so in his adult life, because he thinks it makes his life too one-dimensional. In other words, he enjoys the white noise and the multiple strands of mental activity, and doesn’t feel authentic without them. I worry, of course, that it will affect his work performance, but so far so good, and it’s none of my business anyway! His fiance also seems to take it in stride. His father has it also, undiagnosed for years, and I saw how hard it made his life, with all the forgetting, etc. That was sad.

    I know your post has helped more people than you will ever know. Don’t be so hard on yourself — an ADHD parent can be a ton of fun!

    Have you ever seen those notepads that stick to your car window? I use that all the time, when I have thoughts in the car and know I won’t remember them once I get into the office. http://www.autoacce.com/cars/v-auto-clipboard/

    1. Thanks Randi. The most hysterical thing is I have been meaning to get one of these pads for my car FOR YEARS but keep forgetting. My dad has one and it seems like such a good idea. Way better than all the little sticky notes I keep finding that I must have written at one time or another.
      So glad to hear that it’s working out of for your son. I can relate to not feeling authentic while on the meds. It is that blessing and a curse again and you have to do what’s best for you at that given time, knowing that what you need might change. Life is complicated, ay?

  2. Kriste, I love how honest you are in this post. You are such a good Mom for recognizing how ADHD could possibly affect your daughter and your life, and to be so pro-active about managing it. Thanks for sharing this, it is a great post!

    1. Thanks Sarah! I’m so far from perfect. It hits me hardest when I have time to kill. It helps when I’m held accountable for my time.

  3. Thanks so much for this! Being 39 and finally diagnosed with ADD after having it all my life was both a blessing and a frustrating curse all at once. It was a relief to know why I had been struggling all my life with all the bullets you listed (some because of the ADD, some possibly caused the ADD), but daunting to figure out how to change what has become “normal” and “me”. I appreciate your honesty and you certainly make me feel not so alone as a wife, woman, sister, friend, mother of 2 who also works full time. All the best to you, Kriste!

    1. Jen, you hit the nail on the head calling it a blessing and a curse. I’m hesitant to tell people, even my husband, that my ADHD is “acting up” for fear that people will think I’m using it as an excuse or that I’m “faking” and just lazy. Work definitely doesn’t know but sometimes I think it would be a relief to not have the mask on all the time. I’m so glad you don’t feel alone. We’re in this together! Good luck to you.

  4. Wow Kriste what a wonderful, personal, honest piece. Your perspective of having ADHD and raising a child is so interesting and I commend you for talking openly about it – that helps other mamas soooo much! Your human, we all are, and we all have persona struggles like this. I think you are a wonderful person and great mama. I also think you have never ever missed a blog post so that’s something! xo

    1. Thanks Michelle! I’ve been sitting on this for a while and am glad to help others. As far as not missing a post, it’s a huge effort for me! I must tell my husband a million times “Don’t let me forget to write my post!” and if there’s a post day where I’m out of my normal routine-I panic! But so far, so good!

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