Words and Wisdom for the ADD Heart

After having health problems I arrived overjoyed to a place of wellness, and contentment. I am finally able to focus again more clearly on the every day tasks, not illness.

Having answers that work for my health problems, mentally being able to feel in control again, well, it was such an answer to prayer. That is from where my inspiration came.

I still am inspired. But, reality is settling in on the journey ahead.

I remember, after my husband died 17 years ago, when in a state of shock, I was so robotic for so long that it was as if I had no ADD symptoms at all. I started to question everything, who I really was, who truly cared about me at all. My grief counselor, who did not believe in ADD, challenged my thinking. For a while I walked around, not knowing who I was. I knew my name, but I had lost everything. But, I still had myself buried up inside the grief and I also had this amazing kid.

Oddly enough, I remember feeling overjoyed when my ADD symptoms returned. Crazy, I know. I had never felt that way before. But, they were familiar. My brain felt free enough of the pain it was processing to roam like it had before.

It’s hard many days to see ADD as a gift. This week I dedicated two whole days to organizing my home. Today I woke to stinky litter boxes and a mop that needs to be washed, pieces I posted in pictures with the hope of decluttering, still staring at me. I felt overwhelmed, even a little hopeless.

I am tired of the lists today. I am tired of maintaining this hope. But, the hope is real. The hope is not for perfection, but to enjoy being myself in my life. To be good to the people in my life, and to accept that managing ADD is just like managing my health concerns, it’s a constant and it’s worth it. If I were to stop; then it would be worse, so much worse!

I will always have stacks to a certain degree, but there have been times I have just about eliminated each one. If I am not on top of it, I can get back on top of it. “Goals are not met by one gigantic step, but by several little ones,” my ADD coach taught me. “Use your gift of creativity and your ability to shift gears quickly to address the chaos and disorganization. The more you face it, the smaller your anxiety will become,” said an awesome counselor to me once in therapy. “But, it grows!” I think.

While I’m facing this one thing, three others turn into something nutty. What’s the point? But, I keep going. Step by step, and stuff happens. Good stuff happens. My daughter is growing well. My husband today is happy. I am starting to feel like I can live with a certain amount of chaos, but just minimize it day by day as best as I can.

Dr. Hallowell says we only need to be as organized as we need to be for ourselves to function and to embrace what is uniquely awesome about ourselves, to be able to use our gifts. So, my goal is not perfection by others standards. It’s a kind of imperfect perfection.

I remember working in a job I loved because I felt useful and really good at it. It was twenty years ago, before my daughter was born. I had a hard week. I gave up on my organizing and just flew by the seat of my pants from one task to another. I actually had two positions at this school, so ignoring my planner that I carried everywhere like many women carry a purse made me less effective. My boss, who was so kind, I went to her. I was embarrassed for how off I was that week and apologized. She said something I thought was pretty surprising. She said she had noticed, and she knew I had a whole lot on my plate. She was sympathetic. But, she also said that she had noticed I had stopped carrying my planner everywhere I went.

My point is that I never ever felt completely on top of things at that job. It was stressful, but carrying the planner did make a difference. I did much more than I realized. Me being there actively working made a difference. So, these little things we do, these systems we create to manage, even if they only make sense to us, those systems are worth it. That job was intense. I kept that job and I’m so glad I did. I left when my husband got a job elsewhere and it was time.

Right now I’m a stay at home mom, and it feels chaotic, often harder than that job. But, all my little systems, well, they help me. I may not have a den right now that could go on the cover of Southern Living, as I do live in the Deep South. But, I have a happy family.

I’m hoping to go back to work part time still and I am applying places. I want to have a job again as I transition into empty nest. So, I have a year and a half!

But, I just wanted to share that I often think my problem, and I may not be the only one with this problem, is that I only see what I don’t do, not what I am doing every day. I think that’s so important. I remember reading somewhere that we do not have the same chemicals in our brain, I think it’s endorphins, naturally responding to completion of a project. I don’t know if that is true, but I have to constantly remind myself that I do make a difference. I am valuable to my family. And, I have made it this far. I must be doing something right. I bet there is a whole lot of good things we all do that we do not think about or recognize in our lives, differences we make, and often it’s us that have remember to recognize our work, not others. So, as we plow through our clutter, and deal with difficult people who do not get us, let’s never forget how awesome we are, after all, we are members of an awesome tribe, the ADD tribe. We are often the ones that make the changes that need to happen due to our flexibility and creative insight. So, with all we have to do to stay on track, let’s enjoy knowing the world needs people like us to help them actually notice the scenery, not just the path itself.

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