So, I am now a lot closer to an ADHD diagnosis than I thought I would be by now as there was a way for me to speed up the process. I also appreciate that this may turn out to not be that, although the more I read about it and have seen from others’ experience this week, the more it feels like ‘the shoe fits’, but regardless of what it turns out to be, this week has made me evalute myself a lot more and has forced me to have to try and articulate what I mean about how I feel and how I find things. And it’s made me identify what I find hardest about whatever this is.
It’s the relentlessness and the feeling that nothing is sustainable for the long term that is so tough to deal with. It feels like no matter what I try to do to keep myself going through the day to day of life, it never really has a long term impact, no matter how hard I try. I always feel that after a few days I end up back at square one, overwhelmed, upset and annoyed that yet again it hasn’t worked. The key part of the balance seems to be the part that illudes me.
On average, I cannot manage more than about 5 days where I feel like I am striking a balance. It’s why I struggle when people say things along the lines of ‘it’s ok to have bad days, write it off and start again tomorrow’ and that I need to be ‘kind to myself and give myself a break’. The harsh reality is I can’t always do that when things get tough because I’d be losing at least a day a week if I did, which is just not possible to if I want to keep up with the general pace of life. And by keep up I don’t mean the perfect, everything running in an instagran filtered kind of way. I just mean the basics, having clean plates, keeping on top of the laundry, cooking food, keeping my community responsibilities ticking along (responsibilities I do want, because I want to be part of things outside of housework and a job, I know I have the potential to do them and I want to have responsibilities and involvement); the reality is these things need doing and they need doing more than once in a blue moon. I fully appreciate the sentiment and the well meaning when people say that but it’s not a sustainable way to live when this is a battle so frequently.
When I say I am struggling, people perceive me as always striving for perfection and putting too much pressure on myself and it has always made me frustrated that I’ve previously not be able to articulate that I feel like I am struggling with the bare minimum and I’m not looking for perfection, I am looking for a balance and a way to have some form of passable way of living that doesn’t make me cry with frustration at least once a week.
I try and spread my responsibilities out, because if I attempt to do too much in one day I get overwhelmed and it all comes crashing down. But this means I have to do something almost every day, because if I don’t then the same thing happens, I get overwhelmed due to a backlog of things that have now become urgent. The problem is there will always and very frequently be days where I feel like everything is impossible, where I can’t even get started so the backlog almost immediately starts building up. I have no way of either knowing or controlling when those days are going to be either, so there’s no real way to plan for them. I just know it will be ‘every few days’ and to compact the impact, it’s not guaranteed that it won’t just be a single day either, sometimes this feeling lasts for multiple days.
And it’s not just a lack of motivation. I have no idea how to really put into words how it feels, but I’ll try my best. It’s a complete ambivalence to anything around you. It feels physical even though there is no physical barrier. There is something in my subconscious that makes it feel like I am frozen to the spot and unable to do anything at all and it’s so much deeper than something a good talking to from myself can fix. I almost feel like the only way is for someone to come and take my hand and help me to do something, and that gets me over the metaphorical mountain that is firmly planted in my brain. Obviously, that is not a practical solution for a 28 year old woman, I can’t have someone come and do that every time I need it, but I also can’t ever seem to manage to do that for myself.
The only thing that removes that blocker for me without help is a looming, actual-real-life-consequence deadline. And yes, that makes me do the task, but I then complete it at the last minute, full of anxiety, often rushing and making mistakes and more often than not with some overflow of frustration at myself that manifests either in crying, rage, or both. I feel like a child who can’t control her temper tantrum but the honest truth is, I cannot control it. It is visceral and completely untouchable by my conscious part of my brain. I am lucky that most of the time I manage to somehow hide these reactions, but occasionally I don’t and then afterwards I just feel regretful and ashamed of myself. Even though the conscious part of my brain knows this is a bad way to tackle things, that leaving things to build up never works out well, there is nothing that part of my brain can do to overcome the blocker set out by the part of my brain I feel like I have no control over. My conscious can shout and scream and stamp its feet until the cows come home, it makes no difference, I seemingly have a complete inability to learn from my mistakes that is so solid and nothing I do changes that.
Routines are helpful, there is no doubt about that, but they are a mental struggle to stick to. Your conscious part of your brain can remind you a thousand times that ‘routine will help and you need to stick to it to feel that sustainability that feels better and help you not feel overwhelmed’ but that doesn’t override the feeling on some days of being frozen to the spot and unable to do anything at all that the subconcious part of your brain has put on your body.
And sticking to those routines is mentally exhausting. It is work to push myself through those routines all the time. I have to fight the constant urge of either being hyper-fixated on a task, especially when that is not where your priority needs to be right now, or the feeling of an inability to do anything. To keep in the middle of the road I am always fighting one or the other, the middle never, or at best rarely, comes naturally.
And because it is mentally exhausting to sustain, it doesn’t take long to get tired and that’s when things start to slide and as soon as 1 bit slides the rest soon starts to follow; because I have to work so hard to essentially battle myself to get through the days where I do well, that’s when the mental and physical fatigue set in and uproot it all again. It’s very cyclical.
It’s an uphill, losing battle more of the time than it isn’t. It feels very all or nothing, but I have learnt that all or nothing is never sustainable long term, I just wish I knew how to apply that knowledge practically, in a way that does stick long term.