Life

Might As Well Call This Another Adventure in ADHD

Okay, so. I talked about the book I read on coping with ADHD before and how effective it actually is in fundamental ways to help me navigate life. In one chapter the narrator said that sometimes an ADHD person get stuck on one, seemingly insignificant step in the process of tackling a large project, which could end up derailing progress for days, weeks, months. I think she used an example of someone putting away mail and got stuck on exactly where to put a postcard/birthday card because it required many steps to sort out. To a non-ADHD person it would seem like a non-issue; put that thing down somewhere else and move on to other things in the pile. But to ADHD folks they either just freeze completely or put it somewhere and never pick it up again and so the large project will never be completed either. I thought, huh, don’t think I’ve had that experience, and continued on.

Well, now I have just realized that I had a similar thing happen to me last night! (Definitely not the first time this thing happened to me just the first time I mentally acknowledged it’s currently happening.) So one of my big projects in July is to completely sort out my medical records and clean the dining table which is half-covered in all sorts of medical things due to IFV and multiple surgeries. (And after that‘s done is when I can actually tackle the humongous pile of junk/unsorted mail hidden beneath the coffee table but that’s another thing entirely.) I already have some medical things sorted in a folder in a cabinet, along with taxes, old work records, things like that. My plan was to sort out those old folders and then start putting the new stuff away. Well, let’s just say I’ve been not sorting out those old folders for months. Kept on putting them off, and because there’s seemingly no folders to put the new stuff in, I didn’t organize anything, and the pile on my dining table just kept getting bigger.

And so, in a sudden epiphany while having dinner last night, my brilliant brain came up with a conclusion of JUST GO BUY MORE FOLDERS! If I need folders to put the stuff in, but currently they’re all used up, obviously the solution is to just acquire more fucking folders! I can’t believe I literally wasted months not starting on this project because I cannot make the leap from lacking folders to buying more. If I want to organize the old stuff first before tackling the new stuff, but the new stuff is getting out of hand, then it’s okay to just organize the new stuff first and then incorporate the old stuff into it! Old stuff is not getting bigger by the day, after all. I talked to my husband about this and I was like, what would you say if I came to you with this problem? He was like, well, I have hoarder tendencies so the minute I realize stuff is spilling out existing containers my go-to solution is buy more containers instead of actually organizing or throwing stuff away. I was like that does not help in the long run and he’s like, well, yeah but the room you want cleaned will be clean. Anyway, had I asked him this months earlier, when I was first stuck, then his answer would’ve probably prompted my brain to think BUY MORE FOLDERS!! sooner and we won’t be in this mess now still.

So I went on Amazon today and bought some nice thick folders. There’s my weekend planned out – cleaning! Hopefully my brain doesn’t come up with new ways to derail me, but I have faith. Have to at this point. Christ.

Books

Book Thoughts – Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul

Wow. I finished reading an actual book. I meant for “Book Thoughts” to be a series, but so far I’ve only had one entry in it, and it was back in September of last year. Yeah… you know, I used to read all the time when I was younger. I don’t know what has happened since I became an adult.

Well, no matter, now I’m going to get back into the reading groove. So today I’m going to talk about this book I just finished. It’s not even fiction, more of self-help book when I need a kick in my derrière to get my productivity up. And I think it has done its job pretty well considering. It’s a fast and easy read organization guide mainly for folks with ADHD. The author has a blog focused on dealing with ADHD, as she and her family all suffer from it. In Order from Chaos she doesn’t really go into too much detail about the ‘why’s’ behind ADHD, but instead jumps right to the ‘what to do when’s’, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Of course, ADHD comes in all shapes and sizes, and the author specifically talked about how different her own ADHD manifests versus her husband’s. (I can’t imagine keeping a household functional when multiple people have ADHD. Major kudos for her.) So the tricks and organization advices in this book might not work for all people. For example, I don’t have the same issues as the author when it comes to retaining information. She has to write every single thing down; I can keep some in my brain without forgetting. I mean, of course I do write things down, but it’s more of a “if I don’t write it, it won’t get done” kind of thing instead of forgetfulness. The author also talks about how sometimes she’d tunnel vision on one thing and forget time existed. I do not have experience with that. What I have instead is that I have trouble prioritizing tasks. Imagine cleaning, cooking, laundry, vacuuming all weigh the same in your head as writing your book, and everything has to be done in an order that your brain just arbitrarily assigns. You will never get to writing because you will never run out of cleaning jobs in your house! That’s what I have. My brain has to go through all the “little” things before it can tackle the “big” thing, but by the time it got to the “big” thing it’s so tired that it just doesn’t do it at all.

So what did I learn from the author to fix my issue? Well, I wouldn’t say “fix” completely because that’s not possible, but there are still a lot of things I can do to minimize the problem. I think the biggest takeaway is that I have to learn to work with reality and not wishful thinking. The reality is that I have to have nothing on my plate when I start working, so I need to pare down significantly what I need to do each day in order to function. It means only do one major chore a day and STOP. It means block ALL websites while working except for a useful handful (thesaurus.com, for example). It means turn on DO NOT DISTURB on my phone and only write ONE blog entry per day (this one for today!) and work in absolute silence instead of with background music (learned that I’m a visual learner and any noise detracts from my concentration, not help it like with some others). My brain is not equipped to do what normal people can do without effort, so in order to get my main goals done (finish my novel), I have to significantly aim for less everywhere else.

I didn’t mean for this book thought to be mostly about me. But I think with a self-help book, this is probably the result you’d want, right? After reading there should be some kind of epiphany that makes your life better. If you have ADHD and you just want some practical advice on how to organize your life instead of diving deep into the psychology of manifestation of ADHD, this book is very helpful. Not every exercise she suggest would work for you, but I thinks the fundamental lessons she listed out is good, and you can always tailor what she does to what you need. Essentially she gives you the tools to help yourself. I probably used less than half of her techniques but still found ways fundamentally to make things work better for me. Even if you don’t have ADHD she’s got some solid organization skills in general, so I wholeheartedly recommend checking this book out.

Life

Taking It Easy

Boy, today started much busier than I thought it would. I was going to do all these chores but then my mom called about my trip to Hawaii, and then I had to make dentist appointments for my s.o. (apparently everyone is trying to go to the dentist right now – they’re fully booked for two weeks out!), and man, that took out a small chunk of my afternoon. I’m catching up with what I planned to do, so it’s okay right now, but I am a lot more wired than I had expected to be today. Didn’t even have time to read my book yet.

From past experience I usually run out of steam by today or tomorrow. Like, I have motivation for two or three days and then bam, nothing. If I somehow managed to wrangle some more work after a week, bam, the entire next week is canceled. I tried so hard to not do that but haven’t been successful, so yeah, it sucks. However, now I’m trying this limit what I’m doing per day method, maybe it’s going to work out? I mean technically today is already the 4th straight of me working. And I had an unexpected hectic morning that just added a lot more work on my plate, but I’m here, concentrating on working and blogging still. I’m going to use Headspace and meditate for like 10 min before I start the actual writing part, because right now I am too wired and my mind’s all over the place, but I know I’ll get work done.

Which brings me to the weekend. So we’re meeting a group of friends whom we haven’t seen in over a year, and it’s going to be pretty much a whole afternoon plus dinner ordeal tomorrow. Then on Sunday I have to get haircut so add grocery shopping to it, it’ll be another whole afternoon ordeal. I was planning to work two hours and do chores on the two days (half of what I work on weekdays), but now I’m rethinking the idea. I know I need to schedule in a rest day, and haven’t really thought about when and stuff. Maybe I should just not do any work tomorrow and do two hours on Sunday? Like, the reason I get burnt out is because I keep on living in this “wishful-thinking” schedule, when I need to be on a “reality-based” schedule. Like today, my mom’s call took me by surprise but I adjusted, which is good. I really do need a day per week where I don’t plan anything and just chill. I think I’ll try tomorrow.

I think the reason I keep on failing is that I never considered a lot of day-to-day stuff I do as “work” when they’re taking up the same amount of energy as what I considered “real work”. Now I’m adjusting and so I’m going to try to schedule out my energy usage. It’s like having to refill energy bars in those mobile games haha. I have to recognize when things are depleting it and accept it when they do that, instead of pretending they aren’t and allot energy that I don’t have to things. Anyway, let’s see how tomorrow works out. If the break makes me feel refreshed on Sunday and I keep working, then I’ll call it a success.

Life · Work

Changing How I Tackle Problems

So I talked a bit before of me suspecting I have ADHD. I still haven’t scheduled to see a doctor – I will get one eventually! – but I have been randomly googling books on adult ADHD, namely, if I have ADHD what concrete ways are there to manage it. Well behold, I found such a book! It’s called Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul. (Not sponsored or anything I literally found this book and bought it after reading the reviews.) It’s very funny and exactly what I’m looking for. So yeah, my suspicion that I have ADHD just increased, and I am thankful that my case doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the author’s. Small mercies.

I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I didn’t find every strategy she put down helpful, but it did get me seriously thinking about how I need to prioritize my time based on reality, not wishful thinking. Basically, I need to really, really pare down what I can do each day. There are currently a lot of tasks that I consider “oh it’s a small so it doesn’t count as work” except they actually use up my energy, therefore they ARE work, and so me doing a jillion of them makes me too tired to do ACTUAL work. (Buying a new pair of shoes online is work, a “quick” vacuum of just the upstairs is work, calling a doctor’s office is work. They all add up!) Maybe to some folks none of those things I mentioned require any energy, and so they can do all those AND do 8 full hours of real work. Well, kudos for them! I can’t. Anything that’s not like, watching Youtube, or sleeping, is work to me. I have to accept this reality and work with my own brain, which means that, everything is work so I need to prioritize and space them out accordingly. Also, I have a jillion notebooks keeping track of all these non-work tasks, so much that they become very redundant. I sometimes record “do laundry” on three different trackers. (Keeping different trackers to do work, ironically, is also work for me!) So I dropped them and tried to consolidate everything so I only have to write a specific task ONCE. If it’s actual writing related it goes in the ONE writing notebook. If it’s chores it goes into my bullet journal, along with anything else (I used to have skincare things and other goals in a separate notebook, now they’re all in the same bujo). Keep ONE blog (mostly this one haha). Etc. Etc.

It’s the beginning of the month so I’m still sort of in the middle of the setting up stage. So far I’ve limited myself to at most two chores a day, with room for one extra non-chore but necessary thing to do (calling doctor’s office, for example). That. Is. It. No more wasting all my time doing small chores all throughout the day and therefore get nothing creative done because of all the interruptions! I’ve also stopped all my random journaling. One journal entry a day, period. If I update here today, then I won’t be writing literally anywhere else. I tried so hard to journal every day because I think it’s good for me. Well, turns out I just am not equipped to do that, so that’s a pure wishful thinking thing that I need to face reality with. If you have ADHD, or even if you don’t have ADHD but wants to keep your life in better order, I recommend this book. I’ll probably blog about it after I actually finish it. Right now I’m still testing the waters, but it seems to be working.

Work · Writing

Schedules Are There For a Reason

You know, I’ve been thinking. About my probably most likely undiagnosed ADHD prognosis. I know it’s not good to self-diagnose mental health issues, especially with the help of only Google, but, if the shoe fits I mean…? Kathleenlights basically thought she had OCD (clinical, that is) and then she did this whole video about the things she does and compared them to OCD symptoms (again, clinical, so much more than just ‘oh they’re just picky’ kind of things), and I was like, uh…yeah, I think she has a convincing case. (And kudos for her being so brave about it!) Anyways, regarding myself – so yesterday I set out to work because I was feeling better although not 100%, and then I didn’t work a lick, because I felt like “I can’t concentrate so might as well cut myself some slack. It’s the weekend and I’m not 100%, yeah?”)

No. The answer is NO. If I really do have ADHD, and I think I do, then the hard truth is that I probably will never be able to concentrate without some outside help. I’m not on medication, and even if I should be, I can’t because I think if I want to get pregnant they don’t recommend I take any ADHD medication. So I won’t be getting any help anyway aside from sheer will, and so, when I sit down in front of my computer to write, 9 out of 10 times I won’t be “in the mindset.” It will always, always be a struggle, and I have to develop some ways to cope with it. Them’s the breaks, you know. So I decided, literally this morning (you know, when we just wake up and groggy is apparently the optimal time for life-changing epiphanies), that that’s no longer an excuse. “I can’t concentrate so give up for now, try again tomorrow” is not going to fly if I literally cannot concentrate ever. Tomorrow is going to be the exact same as today. And the solution is, obviously, fuck your brain, push through, and work anyway.

Yeah yeah, easier said than done and all that. I’ve talked with my therapist about some of this (without thinking I had ADHD at the time) and he suggested to try some caffeine just to see if this makes a difference. I did, and I think it does, so I have caffeine to help (and of course have to give that up too if I want to be pregnant, ugh). Another thing is that strict scheduling seems to help me a lot. Which is kinda bad because if I deviate from this schedule even a little bit, like if I were sick, or something else comes up, I don’t really adjust and instead just falls completely off the wagon every time. I think the problem is that I feel like I have to make up for it. Like, I had a sick day on the 2nd, right? I was supposed to work 4 hours that day. Well, I didn’t, and so I thought, I’ll just work 4 hours on the 3rd, which was Saturday, which I initially scheduled to work 2 hours (weekend quota). Well, this little change apparently messed me up mentally enough that I didn’t do any work at all! Had I just completely written off the 2nd as “sick day” and moved on to the 2 hours slotted for Saturday, I probably would have gotten that done. Like, today, I’m also supposed to work 2 hours. I decided to not “make up for lost time” and just follow my initial schedule, and guess what I’m doing right now? Working! I feel like a robot that will just shut down if it deviates from its programming, so I guess the key is to never deviate ever?

(And if you’re like ‘wtf girl you’re only working 4 hours a day holy crap you lucky/lazy person’, yeah, I know. And it’s doubly shameful that I can’t even achieve that much. I want to up it to 5 hours eventually but right now I just want to get anything consistently done at all).

So my solution for now is set a schedule and don’t change it ever. If I’m sick or something big happens then just write the whole day off. Just pretend in your brain that you’re not behind, which apparently is the key to actually be not behind. I’m going to try this for the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo and see where it gets me. And if that doesn’t work either, well, May is a new month too.

Life

ADHD and Me

So I was browsing tumblr earlier, and came across this reblog of ways to deal with ADHD. They talked about how one might need a concrete timer instead of an arbitrary one – case in point, a timer counting down is just a number you can ignore, a pot of water boiling has an absolute “finish” point. So when you’re waiting for the water to boil, do the dishes. Or, put on this album (or Spotify playlist for an hour) and work until that stops. Things like that. And as I read the entry, completely fascinated, I realized that some of the suggestions are 100% how I deal with my own unproductivity. I absolutely put on a podcast when I do dishes, and whatever time left after I’m done with dishes (podcast is usually half an hour and my dishes take about 15 min) I use the rest to do other chores. I have an actual timer that beeps at me after a period so I work until it beeps. I use other podcasts for all menial tasks you have to do around the house. If I don’t do these things, chores don’t get done, I don’t work, and all that jazz.

Except I came up with these ways on my own, through trial and error to see what makes me work, without ever even realizing these relate to ADHD. I’ve never been diagnosed, and never thought I had an issue. I thought I was lazier than most people, and since I’m prone to depression, I also put these all on depression and anxiety. I then went on a Google spree about signs of adult ADHD, and, yeah, I do a lot of the things they said ADHD sufferers do. And it has been absolutely devastating to my creative career in that I just can’t get myself to finish things. It’s why my novel’s going at a snail’s pace, and I’m terrible at creative deadlines, and I never seem to get to the end of anything no matter how much I work. I fidget – not a lot, but I do, I realized that now. And they even said having ADHD is connected to anxiety and depression. So, a few boxes got checked. Of course, I can’t really rely on web-diagnosis because, you know, everything’s cancer and all. But it did get me thinking about actually getting diagnosed by a professional.

My therapist told me during my depression treatments that, he’d seen a lot of patients with productivity issues, but none of them were because they were “lazy.” Now I’m definitely over my depression, and am still not progressing as much, so maybe this is why. I talked to my s.o., who has subclinical OCD so he’s no stranger to mental health issues, and he said, maybe it’ll help you. Maybe some medication or other therapy would be the push that you need to get going in your career. And I agree. A little push is all I need, really, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up with a steady supply of Adderall and become super human or something. (Joking, okay? I know it’s addictive.)

Well, everything will have to wait until I get vaccinated, though. Plus, I’m sure if I become pregnant I shouldn’t take any medication regardless, so it’ll be a while before anything happens. I’ll revisit everything in June, probably, at the rate we’re going with vaccinations in our state. The only thing I can do is just keep trucking.