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Being “on”, adhd blunders & lessons

Today hubby and I went to town with the boy.

On the agenda was: get the boys glasses fixed, pick up seeds,  rubber boots for me and groceries.

The first stop was the glasses and because it was pouring rain, hubby decided to wait in the car for the 15 minute visit to the eye glasses store.

This, is right about when ADHD snuck up behind me and whacked me in the head with a 2x4.

You see...I have processes for everything I do. I have to. I do this so I don't mess up... and when I don't do these processes, I forget things. I end up making mistakes. A lot of mistakes.

Yes,everyone does this...has processes...but they eventually become second nature to most. They glide through them with relative ease...making routines smooth. Doing them almost on auto pilot.

But, for me with ADHD, there is a necessity of paying deliberate attention constantly. For people with executive functioning deficits like me...it is mentally exhausting. It requires being "on" at all times.

With adhd...when you don't do the processes, when you are too tired to be "on", or you chose to alter the process for a split second...you mess up stuff. And, we tend to do this on a daily basis.

A DAIlY Basis!

It is hard to not feel like a complete and utter failure at life due to this.

So tonight, I'm trying to process the days events, and extract the lesson. Excuse me while I ramble it out to figure it out.

So, where was I...oh right....back to today's blunder...

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When hubby stayed in the car, I no longer had to complete my process of leaving the car the way I usually do,because I was leaving the keys in the ignition with him. (Today I learned...do the process anyway...no matter what!!!he has his own keys.)

Because I didn't take the keys out of the ignition- I did not shut off the car lights....and because I didn't shut off the lights...

you see where this is going...

When I came back from a 20 minute errand at the eye glasses place, the van's battery was,of course...dead. deader than dead!

failing to just do one simple thing...take my keys with me anyway...now had us stuck in town, in the pouring rain with a dead car. 14 klm from home.

Town not just a few  blocks away...it is not like I can just hop on a bus or take a cab. And a boost from a towtruck costs about $50. Something we can't afford.

To make it even worse an ADHD blunder... because I do this more often than you'd think....A battery booster pack-the back up provision  for such occurances...was not in the van either!

Why...you ask? BECAUSE.....hello..I have ADHD.

TYPICAL!

I have a terrible time remembering to bring it into the van from the house when we go out. And, I very often leave it in the van for days after I do take it with us, too.

It's a "new" process I have not fully mastered yet. A process we've been trying to instill in me for over 3 years.

In fact...this is the second battery pack we've owned because the charge in the battery dies off and it cannot take a charge when you let it die down too many times. Another consequence of ADHD

*sigh* I could write a whole book on how much money having ADHD costs us a year in my blunders

So.....back to being stuck in town in a dead van....

Now what do we do to solve this!!!???

First, cue the negative self talk most adults with ADHD have. Which is encoded in us and learned well from the people around us all our life.

I constantly dissapointed people with my adhd ways for 30 years before I ever knew I had it. So this negative self talk is still a given for me.

Inner voice:
"F*** f*** f***. You stuipid idiot...now what are ya gonna do huh? ! You know better than  this! What the f*** is wrong with you that you can't just NOT do this stupid shit ALL THE F***ING TIME?! Your such a f***ing useless peice of s**t CAN'T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT FOR F***ING ONCE!!!?" (Yes that is really MY internal critics voice)

Then the anxiety that hubby is gonna be mad with me for yet another ADHD blunder that messes up our plans and schedule.

15 years of daily muck ups.....he has every right to be mad at me for this.

That is how everyone in my life has always been. Justifiably mad at me.

So,  I automatically brace myself emotionally for the next step...which is getting yelled at....so I get on the defensive, ready to protect myself from the anger that is about to be thrown my way.

Anxiety, stress, adrenaline, anger at myself,  fear of dissapointing my husband and dissapointment in myself for dissapointing him all are flooding through my veins.

ADHD people are in a constant state of putting out fires and  grieving on one level or another each time they mess up.

And no,that is not me being hard on myself. That is the reality of living with ADHD as an adult with emotional baggage from a lifetime of being considered a failure at being normal by everyone around me.

"You're smarter than this! Why are you being so lazy! You're better than that! Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and prove it!"

For the record...though hubby was rightfully upset and disappointed.. but he didn't scream and yell or back up my negative self talk with similar complaints like my internal self talk did.

I am very very lucky and thankful to have his unconditional love and support in my life.

Not all ADHD people have such patient and understanding spouses. It is hard living with a person who functions like a forgetful child who needs to be told /constantly reminded of everything, and who often resents being told everything to stay on track.

I know this. The divorce rates for people with ADHD is higher than average and reflects how hard living with ADHD truly is.

Then, the next step when this kind of blunder happens is the problem solver panic mode setting in of trying to brainstorm a solution to minimize the consequences we are now suffering for me forgetting to do my key routine.

I am lucky to have even had a solution!!!A solution hubby helped  come up with, thankfully!

We ended up calling our daughter who was at home. Walked her through charging the back up battery pack for 30 mintes.... Cause, Hello..ADHD! of course...I forgot to put it on charge last time!

Then, I called a friend who works near where I live and begged her to take the battery pack and drive through town when she would be leaving work 45 minutes later, and take the detour, dropping off the battery pack to me on her way home.

With that planned...we had to then wait the 50 minutes for her to meet us.Which in the end, gets us home 2 hours later than we intended.

She saved my butt! And, went out of her way to do so.Again. I'm lucky. (note to self: thank her again!!)

ADHD is not just hyperactive children and lost homework.

It affects every single aspect of your daily life and  ADHD is not a children's disorder that goes away at 18.

I have had ADHD all my life...it is genetic. And I can clearly see it in the older genertions in my family.

It just was known as being lazy and defiant when I was growing up.

It is often misdiagnoased as depression and anxiety in adult women my age who missed being diagnoased as a child or teenager.

Adult adhd people often self medicate with nicotein, caffiene, drugs and alcohol and it can be easily missed even now.

I was very lucky...once again to have a therapist who suspected ADHD when I went to her for depression and anxiety that came on during my 2nd trimester of my 2nd pregnancy back in 2005. She sent me to an ADHD specalist who diagnoased me. I was the only adult patient in that waiting room back then!

Still. I'm lucky to at least know what I'm dealing with, so I can learn to cope with it better. Even if it is a difficult process.

As I've gotten older...my ADHD has gotten worse, as it often does for some females as they have to take on more and more responsibilities for children and households....go through hormone fluctuations with childbearing and then perimenopause.

ADHD impacts your life beyond ways that non ADHD people can really truly comprehend unless you live in a house with ADHD people and have it impact your life daily too.

I WISH a pill COULD fix it! But it doesn't. Meds are like a crutch for a sprained ankle...even with the crutch you still struggle to walk as fast as a person with two  functional feet. And, if the crutch is out of reach...you hobble about clumsily trying to get around.

Meds help. Routines help. But you are always the person using crutches to keep up with society's expectations of being a normal functioning adult.

The coping techniques we develop help. But, even still...without being "on" at all times, which is impossible, we will in all likelihood stumble daily.

This is why I say on my twitter bio. "SuperADDmom:some days I'm super. Some days, The ADHD is."

It really is a daily battle. Some days I am on the losing end of these battles...like today's...but I learn. ..or I try too.

As a result of today's blunder....dinner was going to be late...amd family fun night would have been ruined so hubby suggested a takeout pizza for supper. Which I am very grateful for!

It's not easy. But the forgiving myself and taking the lesson from these blunders do help make it a little easier...even if that progress is so small it is not detectable with the naked eye today. But I MUST take the lesson and apply it. Otherwise. This will just happen again and again in different variations.

The hardest part of learning to live with ADHD now that I know, is reminding myself that I am not a failure as a "normal"person. I'm a victorious at living and learning to thrive with neurological disability.

It is something I am only coming to accept about myself now, even after 9 years of being diagnoased.

Yes, I go two steps forward and 3 steps back a LOT. And yes a victory is often a day in which I didn't make things worse...never mind getting a head on the house clutter and daily routines.....but I keep going a least.

One of the good things ADHD gave me is the tenacity to keep trying. To pick myself up and go again. Being too stubborn to let ADHD win.

I need to take the lessons in my mistakes and keep applying it to get a little less a puppet of ADHD and become more the driver of my ADHD.

There is a deliberate thinking that needs to happen...for EVERYTHING. And it is not easy to instill these routines. It takes time and a lot of repetition. It can be disheartening when something like today happens.

A large part of me wants to just curl up in a bawl and cry...."it's to hard...I can't do this anymore. My husband deserves a better wife than I am capable of being"

It exhausts me trying so much all the time.

The double checking your pocket for your keys as you get out of the car to make sure you have them every single time...because the one time you are not paying exact attention to where you put the keys while your spouse asks you if you remembered the reuseable grocery bags as you're getting out of the car (which of course you forgot AGAIN)...you wind up misplacing the keys because you can't remember where you placed them...and then, you are spending 20 minutes in the parking lot at the end of your shopping trip digging in your backpack looking for them, not even sure you didn't lose them out of your pocket in the grocery store because you can't recall putting them in your pocket or your bag in the first place.

Needless to say...anxiety and ADHD go hand in hand... We spend a lot of time at a near panic state internally, dealing with all the things we mess up a lot.

It is not easy to come to terms with the fact that I will likely never stop dealing with anxiety due to my ADHD.

Sigh...

I'm not even sure I am explaining this in a way for people to understand well, the severity of this mental chaos people with adhd deal with ALL THE TIME.

We don't lack attention. We have a surplus of attention with the inability to focus that attention for long enough to complete things.

It is like being in a room with a million tvs on and not being able to shut any of them off and hearing them all....All the time.

Whatever tv makes the loudest noise to draw our attention to it, is where our attention goes.

We can't NOT pay attention to everything. We have a focus deficit. And an inability to organize the priority of all the things going on around us.

An inability to shut out certain sensory inputs, while dealing with the one that requires our attention.

Our brains go a million miles an hour jumping from one thing to another faster than we can really even process it...and it is constant. CONSTANT.

It is so exhausting.

If anyone talks to me while I'm cooking...dinner is likely burnt. So, now I operate in anxiety all the time when cooking.

If my son comes and asks me to tie his shoe while I'm getting dressed for the day..I'll forget to put underarm deoderant on one arm pit unless I make him wait. My anxiety might make me snap at him harshly because I'm being interrupted in the middle of my process.

A typical person would make him wait...not have anxiety...not snap at him...but an ADHD brain gets drawn in and pays attention to whatever thing is the "loudest" currently...while everything else is whirling around with it in my head... so, I chose not to be cranky from anxiety...and I put the underarm deoderant on the dresser to tie his shoe and go back to getting dressed...and because my routine was interrupted, I forget where I was in the process and I never remembered I didn't put on underarm deoderant until I lift my arm up  to grab a bottle of pickles out of the cupboard a few hours later and smell my own armpit and go "ahh crap! I forgot!"

I do this more than I care to admit currently.

With ADHD, Pretty much everything out of sight is literally out of our mind...until it grabs our attention again.

Real live houseplants? Forget it.

Quiet animals like fish and gerbils? Forget it. Even our budgiw bird has learned to cope with me having ADHD and will rattle her food dish at me and chirp constantly loudly until she gets my attention and I feed her. She's even gotten to know that she should start squawking before she is completely out of food!!

An ADHDmoms house is always cluttered and has undone chores.

That pot on the counter with dinner leftover in it...
It will likely moldy in 2 days when I finally remember to clean the pot.

Of course I didn't clean the pot because making dinner took so much concentration and mental stamina to do...I literally cannot focus  on the dishes afterwards long enough to do it.

Or...I started to run the water to fill the sink...forgot and went to clear the table and don't remember it is running until there is water all over the floor and counter and THAT becomes the #1 priority to handle currently. By the time I mop the floor, dishes are the least of my concern...and by then something else has become top priority...like bedtime routines.

Everything I do as a homemaker takes me 2 to 3 times as long as it should because of my ADHD.

So...to cope...
I make habits. Strict habits to counteract this type of chaos in my brain that living with ADHD just is.

Without the strict habits. My fridge does not get cleaned for 2 months and I'm throwing away  moldy leftover foods I cannot even identify any longer.

I double wash mildewed clothes from my washer I forgot to put in the dryer more than I care to even admit if I am not diligent about my laundry routine.

I can get pretty cranky from anxiety if people interrupt my scheduled chores to stay on top of things.

This kind of stuff is why it really ticks me off when a typical brained person forgets a few things one day and jokes. "Oh I'm so ADD today!" Or laughs at me when I share I have ADHD and they joke back. "Oh I know! Don't we all!"

NO. WE DON'T ALL. NOT AT ALL!

Do we all have check lists attached to the door and walls like a kindergarten classroom, so we know where things go and what to do?

Do we all check our pocket no less than three times evertime we get out of the car to be sure we have the keys? Do we all forget the reusable grocery bags in the car EVERY SINGLE TIME we go to the store?!

No. We all don't.  By the time we are a teenager we don't need the morning routine list to remember to brush our teeth.

I'm 39..I have ADHD and need those lists.

And, until recently I felt stupid to need those lists...I've  balked at needing those ques to do things like a child. Because I was told all my life I'm smarter than that. So, what is wrong with me.I should not need so many lists! RIGHT?

I've been trying to set aside the false pride the chastised "lazy child who should be smart enough to know better and do better" has been encoded with...and it has been hard to let that go.

I don't know how I accept that I am a person with a neurobiological disorder that needs these aids...without feeling like a failure in our society.

But today has cemented in me that I need to be more diligent with my routines. And not let them be interrupted or not chose to not do them once because otherwise I am always playing catch up.

And I'm tired of playing catch up.

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