Adult ADHD / Coping Strategies

ADHD: When Coping Strategies Backfire

Sometimes they do. Sometimes, despite the best of our intentions, and studious effort, coping strategies backfire. Then…we have to figure out what to do next.

For example: My big bag.

I generally like to carry one big-ass bag during the week, so that everything I could possibly need during the week is always with me – and so that I don’t have to think about what I need when and where and blahblahblah. Eliminating that whole layer of having to think and plan and prioritize was a huge mental relief for me. I made sure to return anything critical to my bag. The bag was my life hub. My purse, my computer, my external harddrive, my credit card reader, my phone, large quantities of various types of writing implements (pen, Sharpies, mechanical pencils, highlighters), makeup, extra hair elastics, various project components…in the bag. All of them.

Well one day this Spring, I fell down the stairs because I lost my footing and my nearly 40 lb bag made it impossible for me to regain it. I didn’t sustain any terrible injuries, other than a nearly dislocated finger that to this day, is sore. But I was probably lucky. My mom fell once in a similar way and ended up with an actual head injury…and she didn’t even hit her head.

So I stopped putting my laptop and accessories in the bag. And I’ve been trying to use different, smaller bags, and be more selective about what I bring with me.

This is working about as well as you’re probably thinking it would.

I have a particular spot where I put my bag, in my livingroom, near the door so it’s easy to grab my bag on the way out the door. A home base, for my home base. Well that spot is now a cluttered mess. There’s about four different bags there right now, a pile of papers and stuff that’s fallen over, the contents of each bag are basically a disaster, there’s dog toys mixed in, a couple of pairs of shoes. I keep telling myself I need to stop, make one pile of everything, and sort it out. OH YEAH, THAT IS TOTALLY NOT HAPPENING.

I am so demoralized about having to come up with a new system for one of my biggest freaking ADHD issues that I’m just avoiding it…except for the maybe 3 minutes in the morning that I spend freaking out, throwing things back and forth between bags, putting things in, then grabbing them and pulling them out and tossing stuff aside with a “FUCKIT!”

I keep having to add new bags to the mix because I run out of space in the existing bags and the only way I can function like this is to grab a new bag and start pulling things from the other bags to throw into a new bag…until that new bag gets too full or cluttered and I have to grab another bag…

This is a mess. I don’t have the heart the solve it right this second. This situation has become so disorganized though, that it’s impacting my ability to stay organized at work, and it’s just making my entire cognitive landscape more cluttered.

I HAVE to find another solution. Or I need to get back to a modified version of this system. Maybe I just need to prioritize my bag contents (like maybe I don’t need 30 pens…I just like to have a lot of pens because then I can always be sure that there’s one there, without having to THINK about it).


Okay, here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m going to give myself a deadline. I’ll put that deadline on the personal planner/calendar that I suck at using…bahahahaha.

No really, I’m setting a deadline. No later than Sunday, I will dump the bags out, make a pile. And see if I can edit the contents. Give myself a 20lb bag limit…haha…dammit, that’s funny. Alright. Sunday. Sunday it is. Wait, is there a way I can pay  my kids to do this? No wait, I’m broke, nevermind…okay. Sunday. Sunday it is. I’ll post the proof.



5 thoughts on “ADHD: When Coping Strategies Backfire

  1. Oh. Yes. When it backfires.

    A friend of mine has the over full bag too.

    I travel light if possible. And like to be stylish.
    So when I lived on my own I had a ‘launch pad’ for standard bag items. Worked a lot better than the previous concept of carrying around everything I don’t need but not what I need.

    I have a bunch of pencil cases: meds, pens, make up etc. They go in the launch pad.

    At least once a week I get tired of a certain bag, remove all contents, especially receipts, random stuff and so forth, and keep my ‘standard’ bag content.
    Uni stuff gets removed ASAP.

    I think that’s what works for me. Basic bag content with additional ‘modules’ depending on where I go.

  2. I do the very same thing. It has been a lifelong sense of frustration. For one time period, I only carried a tiny purse (like the kind that is really a wallet on a string), so I didn’t have to deal with all the bag clutter.) Lately, I’ve evolved to a two bag system. The cute computer back pack, which houses my computer (safely) work materials and extra food (always extra food). The backpack also frees my hands to carry other “stuff” when needed, like my kids backpack! The second bag is a small purse that has lots of compartments like a wallet and fits into my backpack if I want. I’ve thrown fashion (mostly) out the window, as I ain’t got time for that. STILL things get all messy and I get frustrated and put off cleaning it out until I get so mad I cannot take it anymore. Those damn receipts!!! Good luck!

  3. have you considered leaving a bag in your car for the things that you need for work (e.g. 30 pens) that you don’t need at home? And only putting the essentials that have to come into the house daily? Just a thought – that worked for me. Or would a rolling laptop bag work?

  4. I have a bag inside of bags system that works for me. There’s my wristlet wallet (holds my keys, cards, cash, and back up meds), the tech pouch (holds tablet, extra chargers, head phones) there’s the office tote (holds any papers that need to go to the office, pens, planner and a notebook), and finally the out and about bag ( holds frequent shopper cards and coupons, any returns/exchanges that need to be made, extra diaper and wipes, non-perishable snacks, bible…). So each day I need either the office tote or the out and about tote ( same bag different colors) , my tech pouch slips into the outer pocket, my wristlet hooks onto the inside.
    My method is far from fool-proof, they still need cleaned/organized on occasion, but my life is easier with them ready to go at all times. I also keep a bigger tote (one tote to fit them all) if I have a double duty day ahead of me (like work then straight to women’s group bible study…) those days are tough, things easily get mixed up. I’m still working on it, but it’s far better than the half-assed I’ll pack everything tomorrow thing I use to do.

    You got this!
    Lol probably a LONG time ago… I just noticed the date 😁

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