ADHD and the Workplace / Adult ADHD / Anxiety / Coping Strategies / Organization

ADHD and the recalibration of a life.

That’s no small statement there, in the title of this post. And it’s no exaggeration.

I have long struggled with a workaholic tendency. It’s part of the reason I’m so anxious, these grey boundaries between myself, and my work, between my children and my work, between my husband and my work, between my pets and my work, between my ability to be effective, and my work. Between my work – and my work.

When I got my 2014 planner – which incidentally, I have not written a damn thing, at least not of any substance – and I opened it up, I wasn’t really able to look at it in the same way that I have in the past. In the past, I would have opened that collection of fresh pages, and grabbed a pen (I liked to live dangerously, no pencils for me!) and started organizing things. I would have been writing in my work hours and my rehearsals and my 8,000 other things and by the time I would have filled up all those pages, though I felt organized, I also felt anxious. Because then, every time I looked at the pages I would be reminded of the relentless schedule I’d set for myself. For the entire year. Is it any wonder that I’ve hated calendars for so long?

Well…I’ve been carrying this empty planner around with me for a couple of weeks now, I guess, and I have hesitated to write in it. Why? Because I realized, for possibly the first time in my life – that I really have to consider carefully what deserves to “make it” into the planner. Yeah – that’s right – I’m not putting just anything into this planner.

Why would I? My life isn’t working, the way it is now.

I never officially have a break. My children makes jokes about how I am always working. Our household schedule always feels slightly-to-extremely out of control. I rush through every aspect of managing my home – the parts I’m bothering to manage, anyway.

I think this is a logical place for me to find myself. A couple of months ago I guess, a radical thought invaded my thinking: Other people have weekends. Other people have evenings. I’ve been thinking about it since then. And slowly, I have been giving myself permission to stop “doing” all the time. By just doing this, I began to transform, slowly.

This whole evenings and weekends thing is pretty great. But the only way to make it work, is to give myself permission to just stop doing things. Well this limits the amount of time that you have to “do” things, and when you have limited amounts of time to “do” stuff, you automatically have to prioritize things. Oh, I’ve prioritized. When it became very obvious that I didn’t have enough time for everything…the things I couldn’t give a shit about prioritizing became really, really clear.

The things that have made it to the top of the list:

  • The work that brings me the most amount of money for the least amount of effort.
  • Spending time with the kids. Lots of time with the kids. The kids are loving this and so am I.
  • Spending time with my husband.
  • Eating.
  • Sleeping. I’m still working on this one, but I’m dabbling.
  • Enjoying managing my household – and tackling tasks that I normally found out of reach, with my schedule, like cleaning my room. Like unpacking boxes that were never unpacked when we moved. Like organizing my house to make it easier to live in.
  • Allowing myself more time in which to execute plans. This is just reality. This has been my reality for about four years now, I need to accept reality. If I want to shorten the timeline for projects, I’m going to have to cut out one of the above “important things” and that’s unlikely to happen.

Things that are currently, frankly, completely, and officially ignored (and with no care to the amount of adverbs used):

  • Other people’s non-life-threatening-emergencies. There are a LOT of these. People really need to get a grip. Is a life on the line? Then STFU, it’s not an emergency.
  • Any and all life situations where I am treated as less smart/qualified/professional/resourceful/valuable than I actually am.
  • Any work that does not compensate me for being a smart, qualified, professional/resourceful/valuable as I am.
  • People who, due to my appearance or gender, do not recognize my value and all that aforementioned stuff.
  • Time wasters. Little things that distract or take up little tiny bits of time and thus make larger blocks of time unusable (I have one particular work situation that fits into this category, and which I have extricated myself from).
  • Social drama. I’m already good at avoiding that, but I’m keeping it on the list anyway.
  • Poorly designed life situations where my energy output is not proportional to the energy that comes back in.

So right now, honestly, I have piles of shit that I’m moving out of my life that I’m kind of not even bothering to “do” right now. I will. But doing things in a new way, that is less stressful, feels so good that it’s hard to make myself to the shit that I don’t wanna do anymore. I’ll get there. Last week, I had the worst panic attack I’ve had in years, just from sitting down in front of my computer to make myself deal with someone else’s manufactured emergency – that’s a big enough hint for me, thanks, I think I’ll go at the pace that feels right, instead of an externally imposed pace that makes me freak the fuck out.

I’ll get to writing in the planner. I’m much closer to seeing clearly what I want my daily life to look like.

This is as legitimate as the actual writing in the planner.

I don’t know if “balance” is what I’m seeking, or if I just don’t want to use that word because it’s such a cheesy cliche of modern thinking, but I just want to feel good about my life. I want to feel good about how I spend my days. I want my home and my family cared for in the way that I believe they should be.

I think I’ll go eat a turkey burger.

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2 thoughts on “ADHD and the recalibration of a life.

  1. Hi Katy, Today I was searching for coping strategies for managing school and work with ADHD. After surfing through and bouncing from other sites without really taking much from them, I’ve been reading through your archives all evening.

    I’m a 31-year old woman who went undiagnosed until my late 20s after years of confusing the people around me with my failure to achieve to my “full potential” (and being confused about it myself.) I’m also a student pursuing an MLIS and I make my living as a social media consultant. Oh, and I have three cats (but no kids, yet.) I often “recognize myself” while reading other people’s narratives about their life with ADHD, but never before to this degree.

    This post hits especially close to home. Last week I had my first ever full-blown anxiety attack when the various piles of my life finally collapsed on top of me. Since then I’ve been through waves of depression, guilt, anger, self pity and self loathing. But I’ve also had little flickers of something else that I couldn’t quite articulate– but it was something to do with moving forward, and something to do with shedding detritus.

    At the risk of sounding a little creepy (in case I haven’t done that already,) reading this post felt like reading a letter from the part of myself that wants me to be happy but couldn’t express it over the noise of the part of myself that wants to be “good” or “successful.”

    Thank you for sharing this story, and especially for sharing your lists. I’m writing out my own versions now, taking inventory on what matters to me and saying “fuck that” to the things that matter only because someone else thinks they should and I feel the need to prove myself. So yeah… fuck that.

    I hope your recalibration process is helping you toward the life you want to live, and I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

    • Not creepy at all – I understand what a relief it can be to find people that you can relate to 🙂

      That whole “not living up to potential” thing…yeah. Ouch. I really, REALLY get that. So many of those moments…or of people just not understanding why I am the way I am…argh.

      Recalibration is going REALLY well, although there are still awkward moments. Those moments have mostly been created by changes in my environment though, not because of new choices that I have made. I feel pretty good about my new choices. For example, my work life has been a roller coaster ride for the past couple of years…I’ve been making some positive choices in that realm…but a change in office staffing has changed my schedule suddenly…this is great, but it does impact a contract assignment that I accepted…that I may now have to figure out how to get out of, because I can’t do both…it’s the kind of thing you just have to roll with, but I didn’t necessarily choose it. We knew that there would be staffing changes probably later in the year, but hey, surprise!

      At least now that I’m not overloading myself all the time, it’s easier to deal with the surprises 🙂

      Good luck to you, thanks for writing! I should probably get writing again, it’s been a little while.

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