I'm sorry this is so long, I just had a lot on my mind and it ended up taking up a lot of space!
For anyone who doesn't know, I have ADD. I was diagnosed at 17 and I remember the immense amount of relief I felt when I found out...I would get so frustrated before that I just couldn't seem to remember the simplest things. I was constantly losing things and had several very expensive belongings stolen after forgetting to lock my locker or leaving them behind on a bench. I felt broken; it was infuriating and exhausting. I was on medication for a year or so, but gave up on it after I graduated because it made me feel so sick all the time. For me it was enough to just know that there was a reason for my chronic scatterbrain, I wasn't just chronically lazy after all, and I moved on from there.
It's 5 years later and I haven't thought much about it since then...until now. I knew that ADHD affected my schoolwork, but didn't think I had to worry much about it now that I'm out of school. Out of curiousity, I googled the symptoms again today. I heard that some people outgrow it so I was just curious if I had many symptoms now...only, when I read the checklist, it was like the story of my life currently. I realized today that ADD is still affecting my life, and severly so. It's really affecting my relationships in a negative way due to my apparant inability to remember plans, remember to charge my phone or check my messages, my chronic procastination...just all of it. I also realized that the reason Chris and I don't have any problems because of my ADD is because he most definately has it too. Because of this our home is in a constant state of chaos. Everything is always a mess, both of us have a lot of trouble remembering important appointments and, if it wasn't for automatic online bill pay, we'd probably be in a lot of trouble on that front as well.
Even though, with the help of journaling and my amazing mother to bounce thoughts off of, I've come up with a lot of tools over the years to overcome the extent to which ADD affects my life. One of the biggest things that helped organization and time-management-wise was having a routine, and a familiarity with my surroundings. Even if my room appeared to be chaos, I still knew exactly where most things were because I had my own system. I knew exactly how long it took to drive most places, especially work-places, and had my morning routine down to a science. My friends and family understood and accepted me in all my scatteredness and of course living with mom meant that, when it came to the really serious stuff, I'd never forget and always be on time.
But here I am. I'm in my first house and so the mess is no longer confined to my bedroom. It's everywhere. Worse is that we feel the need to keep up an appearance of normalcy when guests visit so we throw most of the mess in the front of the house into boxes in the study, everything in the guest room or on the bathroom counter gets shoved into drawers and all incoming mail gets thrown wherever is most convenient at the moment before being lost forever at the bottom of a box of junk when someone comes to visit. This rotating mess means we never know where anything is and is where "organized chaos" just becomes chaos. I don't have my mom to remind me of important engagements anymore. I bought a PDA which helped for a while....if only I could remember to charge it. ;) I don't know how long it takes to get anywhere which makes me rely on Chris whose time-management is even worse than mine...so we are always at least 15 minutes late to absolutely everything. Or worse we think it's from 9:30-10:30 when it's from 9-10 so we end up showing up in the last 15 minutes...I procrastinate painfully, about stupid things. Like grocery shopping. Or watering the plants. My library books are 6 months overdue. And most of the time, I don't remember those "stupid things" at all...which leaves me in a constant state of "d'oh!" if you get my meaning. I even procrastinate blogging. All of it has escalated to an embarrassing extent.
I get so embarrassed that I forgot to return this friend's book I borrowed 3 months ago, or to return that friend's call/text/email or worse get the dreaded "where are you?" text alerting me that I forgot to set an alarm (or forgot them altogether) when I'm still in bed. I am mortified that we are completely incapable, no matter how early we start, of being on time to anything EVER. I feel so irresponsible. On top of that, I can speak REALLY impulsively and even though I would NEVER say anything I couldn't handle someone saying to me, this impulsiveness disallows me to consider how the person I'm speaking to might handle what I've said and not everyone shares my perception, you know? On the way home from every single social engagement, I have at least one--if not five-- impulsive statement(s) to dwell on that make me cringe. Have I no discretion? No control? I wonder how long it is before my friends lose patience with me.
I found this website that was really reassuring for me. One of the things I REALLY appreciated was the "Myths/Facts" section:
I feel SO much better, because I kind of believed in some of those myths. Especially the part about a lack of willpower. I still feel SO frustrated with myself that if I *really* wanted to, I could focus on anything and remember things. I also felt a bit self-conscious even mentioning ADD to people because a lot of people don't believe in it and do say things like "doesn't everyone? ::chuckle::" So yeah, I guess a lot of people do have some ADD symptoms, but my life and my relationships are strongly affected by mine and always have been.
I know that the only way to overcome this is to organize my life. I know that when I create and force structure, that things go really well. Keeping lists is one of my major tools, I have to write absolutely everything down if I don't want to forget. I wish they had a Container Store here or something similar because I think that, when it comes to the mess, if everything had its place, its label, its drawer, its caddy, I think we would stay so much more organized. Right now, and I am not exaggerating, only about 10 items of our clothing (nice things that we never wear) are hanging in the wardrobe and every other item of clothing is laying in a wad on a table or the floor. Every single thing. Organizing a mess is a physical tangible thing that I can do. But...I honestly don't know what to do about the forgetfulness, or the procrastination, or my propensity to start projects I never finish. I'm scared to go on medication again. I didn't like the side effects... that website has a lot of self-help resources though so I should try that. I'd love if we could bring in an ADD coach or personal organizer to help us get off on the right foot...but maybe, with diligance and more journaling I can manage this thing better on my own...
I worry that friends and acquaintances and my in-laws wouldn't understand or even accept ADD as a reason for our irresponsible habits, or would view it as a cop out for things full under our control. ::sigh:: Hopefully the resources I've found today will help it become more of a non-issue so we don't even have to bring it up.