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I think I am losing my mind

I have suspected for years that I have ADHD. Of course, I am middle-aged now and the thought of “learning something new” frightens me.  Not any one thing but many things…learning a new skill or a new job or a new way of thinking, or a new way of doing things.  So when I read about developing a structured environment for myself to harness organization and eliminate distractions and chaos, I really panic and almost shut down.

I look at my home. I look at my office.  I look at my car.  When I look at these things I think to myself it’s “chaos on steroids!” I am angry, embarrassed, ashamed, depressed and completely unmotivated to change these things…ENTER SHUTDOWN MODE.  I go to bed and ignore it.  When I am at work, I am beating the air.

I am so easily distracted that I cannot complete my tasks/projects/assignments.  In my mind I know that was supposed to be doing “something” but I cannot remember what it was.  Frustrating and depressing.  I honestly think that I am losing my mind. I know that in addition to ADHD I have other medical issues that contribute to forgetfulness so I cut myself some slack but then I think that is a coward’s way out.

My boss has been so patient to work with me on this but now it has become critical that I take control of this confusion and disorganization.  So to my credit, I have been chatting with a couple of friends about it all and they both suggested keeping a note pad with me at all times (when feasible, of course).  If I am working on something then I suddenly come up with an idea- write it down. When I am on task but am pulled away for another assignment, quickly write down where I left off. If the phone rings or someone comes to my door make a note as to my thought or task on which I am working.  This seems to be helping a little. It has only been a week that I have been trying this at work and am pleased so far with the results.  Now to do something at home!!!

Does anyone here have any suggestions as to how to keep myself on task for household chores?  And any suggestion as to how to take control of my workday??

I appreciate any insight you can give.  Thank you

Replies

Such is the ADD world and harnessing the energy you are putting into negative thoughts can be put to successful positive thinking. Many of us discovered our ADD mid-life. I did. While not a fan of doctor’s or medicine, my life, relationships and ability to harness my energy and abilities successfully increased exponentially when I found the right doctor and the right medicine. It was rough going for a while and I still wonder what life would be like had I known sooner, but I didn’t. I know now and work with it.

I know people who use exercise instead of medicine with success. To me, the key is a doc you feel comfortable with and who makes sense to you. It took four docs before I found the right one..

I am not totally organized in all areas of my life, as I am proving right now. Please know you can tame this and make ADD work for you!

Posted by dzeldaz on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:13am

I have been trying this thing at home: I have a sticky note pad with sheets nearly 3x5 inch size. I labelled them with titles and stuck them on my kitchen cabinets - yes right on them right in plain sight - drastic times call for drastic measures . Whenever I am distracted with something I think I need to do or fret about forgetting something, I add it to a sheet or make a new note and walk away from it. This way I am able to let it go - no worries, it is on the sheet. .
Here are examples followed by something that is on my notes:
Groceries: bagels, OJ, chicken (Shop Rite)

Phone: make eye appt for E, reschedule vet

Errands: mail A’s present, deposit checks,

Computer: order yearbook, print Kellogs coupons, order fridge replacement gasket

Shopping: mattress pad, outdoor lightbulbs,

Minor jobs: sew badges on sash, hang picture, get spot out of upstairs carpet, pump bike tire, update main calendar with school conference days

Major house: find contractor patio repair, browse replacement sliding door, check home depot for replacement attic ladder

In the evening I try to look at the sheets (a friend told me to highlight the most important items on each sheet to prioritize) - my sheets are completely full - I only gave examples here…I think about what I can do the next day and gather what I will have to take out of the house (the checks, the package, the thing I am returning to the store, the shopping list with coupons etc) and put it in a bag by the door.

If the morning is an “at home” day, I try to grab the list of phone calls and just make the calls. Computer items are problematic for junkies. I have to hold the sticky note in one hand so I don’t get distracted. If i put it down, 4 hours will go by on the computer and my day is shot. Hold the paper with the list. Say out loud what you are doing “look up bike lock, look up bike lock, no facebook, look up bike lock”

My family criticized me for the lists all over the doors, One day I told some of them to pick something from the minor house list (mow lawn, litter box) and actually was able to delegate. Another time someone else took the errands list and ran with it. It was working. Then I moved them to the inside of the cabinets and the whole thing fell apart.  I will be putting them back in plain sight. You must try crazy different things until you hit on what works for you.  Identify your trouble areas - calendar missing appointments? meal planning? filthy house? overdue bills?  broken stuff? Be willing to do war to work on that one thing first - make folders to categorize papers you need to deal with, set timers, get a shredder and put it right next to your door, open the mail as soon as you walk in and toss envelopes and toss the junk before ever setting it down, call the place and get taken off the mailing list right then, ask a friend to call you at a certain time to remind you of something.  One day I made a deal with a friend. We told each other what we wanted to get done and agreed to call and report as each thing was done like a contest. If we did the things we could kick back and have a swim or a drink or go walking or take a nap, watch a movie - with each other or not. Set up a rewards system. When at home, get dressed. With shoes. You can’t pop out and fix the garden spigot when you aren’t even dressed, you can’t chase the mail carrier with your bill very fast barefoot. Dress for the job - if it’s dirty work, wear your dirty work clothes - don’t let your clothes stop you from your mission.

Now that you recognize what you are up against, you can change things. Recognize you can’t do everything at once and it will take time to change habits. Pick one main one to focus on.at a time or per day. Today I dealt with about 300 emails in one of my email accounts.

Clearly my meds have worn off - there is no magic to “fix” us. Accept that you have this “thing” and allow yourself to find your own way to accomplish your priorities. Know that our brains work differently than “neurotypical” people so our solutions may be unconventional. When you find some of your own, they will be brilliant for you.  When I embraced my disorganization and put it on paper all over the kitchen cabinets (truly this was covering the doors) my family said “woa, Mom, what’s all this?”  I said “My brain. This is my brain, all of these things are flying around in there all the time and that is why I ask you things more than once and forget what you said and don’t listen sometimes. This is what ADD is for me. This is why I never finish anything. Now that these groups of items are here, I can start to focus and I can now ask you to help do some of them.” It was a real moment for me to actually create a visual for the inside of my head. I found myself saying ‘no wonder she’s like she is” as if I was an observer of myself. When I cross off one single item, it is a victory and I tell myself - “ha, I listed you and now you are done - because I finished you on purpose like I meant to - not by chaotic accident” Feels good.  You could even start by just listing out your problem areas - not your undone tasks. Seeing them might help you rank them and make a plan to wrestle them into submission.  You can also then think about people you know who are good at your problem areas and you can get concrete help “Hey, how do you manage to be early for all your appointments?”  Or “what kind of planner do you use to keep track of your kids?”

Posted by Juggler on Jul 11, 2014 at 3:51am

Thank you.  These are wonderful suggestions and such an encouragement.  Even as I read these, I could think of a couple of things that I do really well and how I can build on that.
I appreciate you both taking the time out to make suggestions.  That is really great!!  People who UNDERSTAND my brain and don’t think I’m just lazy.

Posted by redrobin0604 on Jul 12, 2014 at 4:41pm

Hi redrobin!

Your post made me think of a few articles on ADDitudeMag.com that are full of strategies for housework, organization and the job, and memory. I’m going to share a few with you here so you can get some more helpful ideas (the ideas above are great!).

Hate Housework? http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/988.html

Organization Tools ADD Adults Swear By: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/8923.html

Help with Organizing at Home:
http://www.additudemag.com/q&a/ask_the_organizer/1362.html

A lot of adults with ADHD use FlyLady’s program: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/656.html. I think the key to that and most other strategies that work, is breaking tasks down into smaller parts, so they aren’t overwhelming—do tasks in clusters (http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/9578.html).
And go easy on yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. One day at a time, one step at a time.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:22pm

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The opinions expressed on ADDConnect are solely those of the user, who may or may not have medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of ADDConnect or ADDitude magazine. For more information, see our terms and conditions.