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ADHD in Women

Gaining Control over my life

I have known I have ADD for years and I have just let things get out of control in my life.  My house is a mess, I have no organization of hardly anything.  I am desperate to get control of all of this chaos.  It is very depressing and because I am depressed I tend to just lay around and get nothing done.  It is just so overwhelming I do not even know where to begin.  I think my first order of business is to get my house at least picked up and cleaned.  How should I begin this?  I have found that when I start to pick up my house I do not have enough room or places to put things up.  So I get frustrated and then I just quit.  What should I do?  Do I just start by cleaning out areas of my house, you know closets and drawers and the such and not worry so much about cleaning the house but rather organizing areas first?  Or should I clean up the house and just poke things anywhere I can find space and worry about organization later?  I have tried Flylady but that just does not work for me.  I work for the school system so I have time off here and there but I still consider myself as working full-time.  Any help anyone can offer me would be appreciated.  I just need a beginning point.  I know I cannot get everything done in one day or even one weekend but I would like to get a starting point to begin.


Actually, I got into the same situation, so I looked at my home in terms of what would be seen when friends came iinto my home. 

What you may need is a “Plan of Attack” so that you have a blueprint to work from and specific steps to follow.  Flylady does work, but some of us need to have made a dent in the mess before we are able to follow her advice/methods.  Here is what I did.

I started at the front door and looked around the room while holding a steno tablet and a pen in my hand and listed the things that I needed to do from my viewpoint at the door.  Most of the problem was having so much stuff out of the places it belonged.  Cleaning was done after moving all of the out of place things back to whee they belonged.  From that point, I kept going forward through my dining room and into the family room at the back of the house.  When I reached the back of my home, I started entering the areas to the left (Kitchen/laundry).  When I had completed what had to be done in those areas, I cleaned each area before moving to the next area.  When the center and kitchen side were done, I started on the other side, where the bathrooms and bedrooms are located.

As you are doing these areas of your home, have three bags or baskets/bins with you.  One is labeled “keep/put away”, the other is “throw away”, and the third is “give away/donate”.  Using the three bins made it a lot easier to get rid of things that were no longer needed.  With my home in such a mess, I ended up with a bin for each room of things to put away, but that was okay.  I could do the putting away as I cleaned.

Cleaning is a matter of starting at the top and in the corner the furthest from the door.  I dusted celings and overhead items, pulled curtains down to wash them (or send for dry cleaning), and spot cleaned any spots on the walls, washed the inside of my windows and sills before replacing the window treatments.

I followed that method until I got tot he kitchen.  There is no point in trying to dust a kitchen.  Cooking film makes things stick, so I scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom, then progressed to emptying and cleaning each cupboard over the counters, the range hood, the refrigerator and stopped when I had completed the lower cabinets and the range.  I pulled everything off of the counters while I cleaned.  As I emptied each cupboard, I used my three bins to advantage.  I got rid of duplicate utensils; items that I no longer needed or used; and cut down on the number of things I kept in my kitchen.  I treated myself to new potholders, towels and a new dish drainer and tray, too.

There is one problem with getting all of those space cleaned and looking good.  That clean space has to be maintained.  To help myself, I began following Flylady.  I have been following her wisdom for over six years now and have no regrets.

Develop a basic daily plan for yourself.  My Morning Plan is simple.  Out of bed, bathroom things, dress to my shoes, make the bed, gather laundry, (coffee pot is on a timer from the night before), meds, breakfast, second round meds, start thawing what is planned for dinner, review my plan for the day, and get started on my daily plan.  Evening Plan is just as basic.  Gather things from the spaces where I have been and put them where they should be (coffee mug to the kitchen), set out clothes for tomorrow, take nighttime meds, turn off the lights and lock up the house, and go to bed.

My home has been broken down into “zones” so I know where I will be working each day to keep my home clean.  Once the big cleanup was done, it was an easy matter to keep it that way so long as I stuck to the “routines”.

I now have my complete “plan” typed and contained in a planner that is used daily so that I do not fall back into my old patterns. 

It all sounds like a lot to do, and, initially, it is, but it is all do-able, and it is not difficult to maintain.  It does, however, require some self-discipline… I have reminders and alarms on my cell phone—quick “nags” that remind me of what I had to do.  I have asked my daughter and my husband to hold me accountable and they help when they are needed, but that does not happen very often. 

You work in education, so you know what a “curiculum” is.  Just build one for yourself and then you ahve the plan.  After that, put it into a schedule that is reasonable.  Plan your big cleaning projects or other big projects for the times when you are not working at the school.  Don’t make your “plan” so rigid that it becomes impossible.  Rome was not built in a day.  Your home did not get in this shape in one day.  You need to kind of work “backward” to get your home where you want it to be, then move forward by maintaining what you have accomplished.

I am not a professional at organizing or housework.  I do know what works for me. 

Contact me if you need help with the planning.  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Nov 02, 2013 at 11:37pm

Thanks so much -  I am just sitting here thinking WOW!!!  You have really done a great job.  We recently had a death in the family and someone made the comment they dreaded cleaning out my aunt’s house because of all of her junk and there was no order to anything.  That hit a nerve with me.  How long did it take you get to the point of doing routines or rather maintenance?  It sounds like to me you are recommending to clean out/organize first and then do a cleaning but to do it room by room.

Posted by Klippy on Nov 03, 2013 at 1:26am

Hi, Klippy!  It took me a month to figure out how bad things had gotten and how to start working my way out of the mess that I had created.  In the two years before I started, I was the only cregiver for my two ailing parents and was living with them while my husband was still working and living in our home.  My parents left their home to me. 

We moved into a much smaller home without giving throught to how things would fit and what was to stay and what was to go.  I pretty much had two of everything—very overcrowded and ovewhelming.  Even worse, I had to get the old house ready to be rented (the market did not make selling it an attractive choice.) 

I had done no purging at all before combining two households of furniture, dishes, etc.  The linens alone were a huge problem.  The kitchen was crazy!  My previous kitchen was a “country” style kitchen and huge.  My parents’ kitchen is a small, galley kitchen with no storage. 

But, I started out by doing my clearing out and organizing in two different ways.  Clearing out was pertty much obvious as far as stuff that I did not want or need to keep, so I did a whole lot of that before doing much cleaning at all.  I sold or gave away duplicate furniture items that I was not keeping by taking those things to a local swap meet.  I cleaned them up in the garage and left them there until they went into the truck.  That took up about the first three weeks.  I worked on the furniture after work.  My neighbors had teenagers who helped me move the heavy items and I paid them for their work.  they also went to the swap meet with me.  I came home with only one small table and a chair.  I was also able to use those when I got things organized inside the house. 

Once the major problem of the furniture was solved, I began doing the room by room cleaning.  I chose one room to do over Monday and Tuesday.  I took Wednesdays and thursdays to do the general swishing and swiping in the rest of the house and to do the shopping, banking, errands, and appointments.  The next room was handled on Friday and Saturday.  My husband was at home over the weekends, so I took Sundays off.

This house has living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, family room, “man cave” (or third bedroom) and two bathrooms.  I lived out in the desert, so just getting to town for my cleaning supplies was time consuming.  I shopped once a week, picked up my mail at the post office, ordered any items needed for fixing things at home (paint, lumber, sand paper, etc.).

From start to finish, the entire inside of the house took me just over a month.  Refining things was done over the next couple of weeks.  Cleaning my entire house now only takes a week, but that is because I refuse to become a “slave” to the house.

I am now retired and there is too much other stuff to do! 

Because you are still working, I would suggest not tackling a whole room until you have a couple of days to start and finish it in before going on to another room.  Perhaps on your weekends, you could take on a smaller task like the papers that need to be filed or tossed.  Give the house a good airing out, do the dustring, and break out the vacuum cleaner. 

Bring a stack of sticky notes and a pen with you and tag the things that you need to deal with, but do not stop what you are doing to deal with them.  Does that make sense?  In other words, do not break your stride to take care of the things you see, just make a note and keep going. Distraction side tracks me and possibly you, too.  You want to get other things done.

I am going from memory on all of this because it took place over twn years ago.  I did keep a journal of it, but I would have to pull that out of my archives.  LOL

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Nov 03, 2013 at 2:37am

I am on medication, adderall which I take daily. The medicine does help.  I just get so frustrated with myself because I just seem to not even start cleaning.  Our house is not nasty dirty because I do clean up some but it is just over run with junk which makes cleaning so hard.  And the thoughts of someone coming to see us, please do not even go there.  I go to other people’s homes and they look ready for guest at a moments notice.  I really do appreciate all of the suggestions and stories you have shared.  I just recently purchased the app Motivated Moms I am hoping that will help me to stay on track.
One other thing I wanted to ask—do you all have trouble purging stuff.  I seem to want to hang on to everything thinking I might need these.  How can I over come this problem??

Posted by Klippy on Nov 03, 2013 at 2:46am

Awesome Mitzi, as always you nailed it… Its time for me to get in touch with balance, energy and nature.  Thank you

Posted by BexIssues on Nov 03, 2013 at 3:33am

Thank you for your post Klippy and for everyone’s helpful and thoughtful suggestions. I’m struggling with the same problems. I went from a mom of two teaching full time with a chaotic, unorganized house and now I am a stay at home mom to three with a chaotic, unorganized house. I am feeling very frustrated that even being home full time for the past year, I just can’t get ahead of the mess. I get so overwhelmed by it and just flit from surface to surface and never really manage to make a dent in anything. Then I beat myself up for “failing” at making my house a home. I’ve begun purging lately as I’ve come to realize five people can only have so much “stuff” in a small home. You can clean and organize all day everyday but if you have too much junk and too little storage I think it is always going to be cluttered and overwhelming. I’m trying to live by the mantra, “if we don’t need it, use it or love it…it has to go.” Hopefully after I lighten the “load” I can follow some of the above suggestions to make our home more organized, restful and inviting.

Posted by Kaylee74 on Nov 03, 2013 at 8:35pm

Hi, Kaylee74!  One of the biggest ways that we defeat ourselves when “stuff” is the problem is in trying to tackle too much of the “stuff” at a time.  It is sort of like setting ourselves up for failure.  When I catch myself doing that, I stop, grab a cup of coffee or a bottle of water and really think about what I am trying to accomplish.  Most of the time my examination will show that I am trying to tackle too much at once.

Start with one space, say five feet by five feet.  Get that area as nice as you can, using the three bins for “keep/put away”, “throw away”, and “give away/donate”.  After you get the clutter out of the way, the area is much easier to clean and get into the order that you want it to be in.

Kids need to learn early on that their toys and things are their responsibility.  Why?  Although it does not seem so when they are very young, the day that they finally leave your nest and go out on their own should mean that they know what they need to know to keep a home of their own.  We do them no favors when we are doing things for them until they are ready to leave home.

Set up a short list of what the kids should learn how to do now.  Depending on their ages, this could be “Put your toys away before bedtime”, “Get your homework done”, or other simple tasks.  You did not mention the ages of your children, but there ae lists all over the internet that break chores down by the age of the child.  Yes, you will have to show them, perhaps numerous times, how to do things, but how else will they learn?  I found a great explanation for this on a blog, “A Slob Comes Clean”. 

Hold your children accountable for the things that they are supposed to be doing and responsible for getting those things done.  Even a three year old knows what “Put that away” means after they have been shown what “away:” means.

start small.  Break each room into “zones” and do one area at a time.  Older kids can do this, too.  That would go a long way toward getting their things whee they belong.  Give each child a large bin for their closet floor where they can keep their “stuff”. 

I found it helpful to completely empty my closets and only put back in there what was actually being used.  It might seem wasteful to get rid of so much, but it is just as wasteful to keep what is not being used.

For things that are only of sentimental value, take a nice picture of it, then either give it away to another family member or donate it.  You still have the picture of it.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Nov 03, 2013 at 11:27pm

Hiya, just to say, that if you need a little help with structure, I find the FLY lady really helped me as a starting point.  It really did help me get my mind clear, and the daily reminder emails did help, once I made a commitment to myself to actually act on them….

Decluttering has been a massive help for me.  Ironically we now have a big house, that we “could” fit everything into, but actually we have a lot less possessions, and that has really helped me to keep on top of things!

All these lovely comments have really inspired me again to make the last push having moved house over the summer….

Posted by Wuftytufty on Nov 04, 2013 at 1:12pm

I just joined this group so this is my first post.  I just diagnosed with adult ADD myself. I have known that I’ve had it for a long time however and have had read lots of things on it and have recently developed strategies to help me keep moving forward and get through my day instead of getting stuck.
One of the first things I learned recently that helps is to stay positive and give yourself praise for doing even anything even if it’s just one thing.
Starting to do this will help you continue to do more things. Don’t beat yourself up if all you can do is even one thing a day as it will prove as you start getting more things done and feel proud of even little accomplishments.
One thing I would bring up for a recommendation that i recently found if you have a smart phone is a new app c called “Daily Routine”.
You can enter the things that you want to do at certain times and/or a certain order at certain times of the day and you can set reminders for them. I don’t worry so much about the times that they take because that’s hard for me to plan but just the list of things to get done at certain times the day is very helpful.
It’s a very colorful app and is totally customizable and has icons for tons of categories.  I used to have a hard time figuring out what to do or what to start on in the morning and then would get lost in doing nothing other than watching TV or not knowing what to do next so would get stuck. Now, what I do is know that when I get up I just have to open the app and look at it then I just go line by line of things to do. It has been very helpful for me!  I’m excited to be involved in this group nice to meet you all.

Posted by treebera on Nov 05, 2013 at 11:45pm

I just realized that this is me, 40 yrs old…I thought I was at a breaking point, like what the heck is wrong with me…if anyone knew how I really feel, how I really am…they wouldn’t believe it.  I am so put together on the outside, but it’s so not the case.  I stumbled on some Youtube videos by psychiatrists specializing in ADHD in women, and I’m overwhelmed at how accurately they described me.  I can’t take my house anymore, everything has become overwhelming.  What do you all suggest is a first step.  Do I need to see a Dr. or therapist first?

Posted by Gogetter11 on Nov 07, 2013 at 6:29am

At 46, I’m newly diagnosed with ADHD (past year)...don’t feel bad…my house is coming along slowly, but the majority of it still falls in the CHAOS/too much stuff/tornado came through category.  I asked my best friend (who’s seen my house) to come help me one afternoon, and we tackled the entryway & kitchen. My kitchen is at ~90% of where it needs to be (but its 600% better than it was, trust me!!!); the entry was cleared, but now I’m “junking it up” again by bringing in bags from stores and depositing them on my new organizer bench.  GOTTA figure out how to break the drop it inside the door habit!!!  Working with an professional organizer helps, but it will accomplish more if you can “thin the herd” of stuff beforehand.  The timer is a wonderful thing—I have one that clips or hangs around my neck to keep you on task.  You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes (or whatever time you decide) and you can always set another 15 minutes if you’re feeling motivated smile
Forgot to mention, I’m seeing Dr every 3 months for medicine evaluation/personal evaluation—-medicine helps. And like someone said, it didnt get messy in a day, it wont get clean in a day—-keep chipping away at it & soon you’ll have a shiny area for inspiration!

Posted by JediMyia on Nov 07, 2013 at 9:21am

Two of the downfalls of my ADHD are my lack of the concept of time and the inability to prioritize.  I also have circular thinking (this can’t be done until this is done, but that can’t be done until THIS is done, and on and on, etc.).  Oh, and another one: procrastination mixed in with perfectionism.  Like you, I didn’t know where to begin, or which area/task/project should be done first.  I got the suggestion of making certain routine tasks to be done on certain days; for example, Monday is laundry, Tuesday is dishes, Wednesday is taking out the trash and straightening up the house, etc.  I started out doing this and it was really hard at first, but eventually I noticed I was doing even more than just my one scheduled daily to-do!  I didn’t even realize I was motivated and getting things done until I sat down and looked around and was like, “Wow!  Look at all I’ve done, and I didn’t even realize I was doing anything productive!”  I was just DOING.

Another helpful suggestion I got regarding my inability to prioritize is to JUST START.  If you don’t know where to begin, and start the circular thinking, get overwhelmed, and freeze, you get nowhere.  But if you just start something, anything, and do it, then something is done!

I’m still working hard and I finally just recently unpacked (still have some organizing to do, though) and I moved 7 1/2 years ago!

Good luck!  You can do it; don’t give up!

Posted by LittleD1981 on Nov 07, 2013 at 11:35am

Hi Ladies,

I am being diagnoised by ADHD at the age of 30, which is scarey but relieving in another way. I always knew something was not right with me and it took me a great deal of energy and pride to hide this. Until now, no one could tell but since two weeks, I feel like I’m falling apart and I am no longer able to keep control. I am exhausted and dizzy, I have the feeling as if I am on a boat that keeps rocking. Has anyone had this? I am just wondering if it could be an emotional reaction to discovering this news?

I have done years of therapy to work on myself (specially in relationships) and although it helps me a great deal, I know now that there are many things I cannot deal with on my own and this is what scares me. 

Your posts make me feel less alone, thank you! However, I wonder why I am not messy in my home, it’s quite the opposite…wish I could say the same with my inner self.

Hope to get some feedback..

Posted by Vessie on Nov 07, 2013 at 1:30pm

Gogetter11 and Vessie,
It’s amazing how closely your posts reflect the way I’ve felt about my own life for so long!  Once of the most awesome things about joining a group like this is the realization that you really aren’t alone in these struggles - after years of feeling like there is something so wrong with me, I’ve finally found a community where the way I am is completely understood. And more importantly… accepted.

I am 37 and I was diagnosed with ADD 7 years ago.  The diagnosis helped me TREMENDOUSLY because it finally gave me an explanation for my struggles, and also gave me some direction for what I needed to do to manage them. (By the way, if you haven’t already discovered” Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” by Sari Solden, I highly recommend it.  I found it so useful when I was diagnosed!)

What I’ve learned in the last 7 years is that the ongoing struggle never really changes (we are who we are), but you can honestly make it easier by doing the things already recommended in this thread - adjusting your diet, exercising regularly, and finding the right medication.  I also think that having a supportive partner and the right job also really helps, but those two things aren’t always within our control.

For me, frequenting web pages like these and participating in discussions like this also really helps a lot!  It feels good to be reminded that I’m not alone in these struggles, that I’m not a bad person, and that I’m not CRAZY. Because of all the things we face everyday - disorganization, poor memory, being late, etc. - the feeling that there is something wrong with you is the worst part.  At least for me.

Thankfully, there are very smart and understanding women like the ones on this thread that can remind us… it’s OK. smile

Posted by runningtostaysane on Nov 07, 2013 at 10:08pm

Great post!  Thanks for those suggestions!

Posted by runningtostaysane on Nov 07, 2013 at 10:10pm

Oh boy….. got down to the last post in this thread and I’m balling like a baby.

I was diagnosed w/ “off the charts” ADD in my 40’s. (I’m 38yo until a mirror reminds me that I’m 60.5, grrrr).

I’ve never struggled as much as I am now and came online to find an ADD therapist. Found Klippy’s post, all your feedback and I think maybe, just maybe I can crawl out of this. Bless you all.

Posted by Berky on Nov 09, 2013 at 6:50pm

Great Post!

Posted by ML1221 on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:32pm

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