I published this last week on my Facebook page, but think it is worthy of sharing here as well. It explains so much! There is a lot of correlation between ADHD and addiction – particularly undiagnosed ADHD, as people self medicate, and numb the negative emotions they feel as a result of feeling so out of step with the rest of the world. This is a very personal piece, and I am sure I will explore this subject in a more professional way in time
The phrase “God, I hate being me”, and “what the hell is the matter with me?” has been a part of my self talk for so long that I barely even noticed it after a while. Always late or *just* on time, never able to keep a room tidy for more than 2 days despite LOVING the tidy room, trying to create schedules for life but never able to stick to them…procrastination, sucky time management, overwhelm and a new idea every 5 minutes. I could put something down and have absolutely no idea where it was 3 seconds later…I can walk over something on the floor 20 times before it occurs to me that it might be easier to pick it up. Domestic chores that most people think of as normal just don’t register on my radar at all, and anytime I do manage to get a room in my house tidy, it is worthy of a Facebook post about it!
I have always felt like I wasn’t quite operating at the same speed as everyone else. Things that seem easy for others and completely effortless require gargantuan effort for me, and then I often fail anyway. I can make my bedroom look beautiful in one mammoth 5 hour decluttering and tidying session, but it rarely occurs to me to spend 10 minutes putting clothes away rather than dumping them on top of the chest of drawers or the floor.
My whole life, I have defined myself, and been defined by others by these traits. Mostly, in my head at least, focusing on the negatives.
* I am messy
* I am disorganised
* I am crap at time management
* I am easily distracted
* I have a low tolerance for frustration and irritation
* I can be fascinated by something one week, then completely forget about it the next
* I am procrastination personified
* I am riddled with self doubt
* I am brilliant at creating schedules and to do lists, and then not looking at them again and wondering why I have got nothing done that I planned to do
* I can be hyper focused on something to the point that I forget I need to go to the toilet (I do remember eventually, but it’s once I cannot wait another second!) or suddenly realise I have no feeling in my feet cos I am so cold, and then at other times I struggle to get to the end of a sentence before my mind wanders
* I want to do so much that I sometimes over commit myself to the point that I can barely breathe and end up letting down everyone I have committed to, including, and mostly, myself.
* I will leave doing any project, task, assignment etc until there is so little time to do it, I am relying on copious amounts of caffeine to get me through it and praying that nothing goes wrong
* I cannot sit still most of the time, dancing, talking, picking at my fingers, wriggling my toes…there is normally some part of my body moving in some way.
These traits are accompanied by many other positive ones, but, being human, the negative ones have dominated my view of myself for my entire life. If you have had much to do with me, then they have probably done the same in your view of me.
Growing into my adult life increasingly defining myself by the things I didn’t get right in life has taken quite a toll on my self esteem and mental health as you can probably imagine. I could never understand why I couldn’t seem to function in what was even a basic level of normal for most people. Drugs and alcohol were easy answers to this and other emotional turbulences.
Last week, in what might go down in my history as being my favourite visit to the doctor’s ever, I had confirmation that I am not, in fact, crap, but that I do have ADHD. I can tick off Every single symptom on this list! It’s hilarious that after years of feeling like I don’t really fit anywhere, even into my own life, I find I am actually a textbook case of ADHD!
This discovery has transformed my view of myself. Instead of beating myself up and piling shame upon shame about the state of my house, my poor organisational skills, my erratic moods, behaviour and interests etc, I can find solutions. Instead of getting angry with myself when I fail to achieve my goals, I can look at what I need to do to restrain the worst of my ADHD, and emphasis on the gifts it brings.
The best tools that can help me are already within my gift – yoga, breathing practices, meditation, exercise, healthy eating, hydration, good sleep. The biggest challenge I have now is routine – my life is very unstructured due to factors beyond my current control, but I am going to look into what I can do to mitigate this, and where I can put routine and structure in. I am not going to be taking medication for it, it wasn’t offered to me (so if you are going to tell me ADHD was invented to sell drugs, please don’t, my doctor has already ruled out drug therapy for me).
The purpose of this very long post is twofold….firstly as an explanation and apology if I have ever let you down or if you have ever looked at me and thought ‘what the **** is wrong with you?’ Now you know.
And also, please, if you or your child have any of these symptoms, please go and see your doctor. ADHD can make life very difficult, but if you or your child knows it is there, you can work with it. Undiagnosed ADHD can lead people down a very dark and unhappy path (addiction being just one of them), but if you know you or your child have it, you can find ways to manage it. I highly recommend the videos produced by How to ADHD. It was one of her videos that alerted me to the fact that I definitely have ADHD, she is fantastic, I have learned so much from her. Also, Faster Than Normal by Peter Shankman is wonderful – I listened to it driving to see Joe a couple of weeks ago, roaring with laughter in recognition of so much, and almost in tears at how much of my self-esteem has been lost over the years to something that explains me so well.