Dear ADHD…

Posted: May 5, 2011 in ADHD
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I think it’s kind of unfair how little people actually know about you.

For example, most people don’t understand how much you fuck with my ability just to get basic errands started, nevermind done. To-do lists? Yeah, they’re the fucking enemy. It’s not that I can’t compile them — I’m the king of making lists! And believe me, I want to finish them. I need to finish them. The problem is just getting started. I know everyone has a tough time with that bit, but you, ADHD, have taken it to a whole new level.

This isn’t a simple matter of being comfortable or lazy. I’m not alone here. Most people with ADHD experience this in one way or another — it’s a symptom of the disorder. You’re a rotten bastard, always fucking with my impulse control and zapping my short term memory. You’re a dopamine slanger hoarding all the good stuff, and I’m always itching for a couple more hits. If there’s no stimulus overload for Bezuidenthustra, there’s no getting started. Quite literally, if there’s no urgency, no alarm bells ringing and old ladies screaming, my brain figures there’s no need to do anything. Yeah, my brain’s like a teenager with a bong and an endless supply of Cheezies, and that’s all your doing, ADHD.

And even when I do manage to get started, I’m still tiptoeing over quicksand. People forget that, in order to really get going on a list of 10 things, you have to be able to focus enough to get Step #1 out of the way first. How many times, ADHD, have I gotten up to do something only to discover nearly three hours later that I’m in a different location doing something completely irrelevant?

For instance, how many times have I jumped up to clean the bathroom and ended up ordering Christmas presents instead? (Twice, ADHD.) How many times have I sorted out my laundry to get some washing done only to later trip over those same unwashed piles upon returning from the grocery store with snacks and juice? (Four times, ADHD.) How many times have I picked up my phone to return an important call only to find myself jerking off in the dark without ever having dialed anyone’s number? (At least eleven times, ADHD.)

People don’t know this shit about you. They should. At the very least, it would help explain to those who know me that I’m not apathetic or lazy, just hamstrung. I hate when I don’t get things done even more than they do. I work twice as hard to complete shit, and I’m half as efficient. That’s four times a bitch, ADHD, you fucknut.

I could sit here and continue complaining, you know. And I probably will. But for the rest of this post, at least, I’m going to share something with you, ADHD: I’ve got a battle plan for this shit, and it’s been working like a bomb!

You see, if I had a pretend-list of 5 items, I now have medicine that helps me stick to the list items. (Well, mostly. It’s still difficult. But whatever. I digress.) I just needed to figure out a way to get started. I can handle going from Step 1 to Step 5. Going from Step 0 to Step 1, that’s the problem. And that’s where my battle plan has come up trumps. For those people who don’t have to put up with your shit, ADHD, this process might seem kind of bizarre — I’m okay with that!

How Bezuidenthustra Gets From Step 0 to Step 1: Jumping Over an ADHD Hurdle

Let’s say I have to get started on a list of errands, and let’s say the first entry on the list I choose to tackle is “email accountant about taxes”. When I look at it closely, I know that “email accountant about taxes” will require three very mundane first steps to go from Step 0 (Bezuidenthustra sitting on his lazy ass watching Top Gear) to Step 1 (Bezuidenthustra informing his accountant that he totally forgot to fax that shit to his old school, whoops, sorry!).

  1. First, I’ll need to physically get up.
  2. Second, I’ll need to go to my closet and get the tax documents I need to refer to in that email.
  3. Third, I’ll need to physically walk over to my computer, sit down, and open a “compose” window in my email client.

In doing these three steps, I not only have to summon up the energy to do something I don’t like to do, but I also need to stay focused and not get distracted until I’m actually working on the task I put on my list (i.e. “email accountant”).

This is where “normal” people would say, “Umm, why don’t you just do it?” It seems simple to them because those three steps I just described aren’t an issue. Sure, “normal” people don’t want to write that email either — it’s boring, dammit! — but they know that if they can get past that very first mundane step (physically getting up) the rest will follow almost automatically; they probably won’t get distracted until that “compose” window is open and they’re typing away. The problem, though, is that my chances of getting to the point of actually typing an email in that “compose” window is far lower than it is for someone without ADHD (you fucker!).

So there are two problems to solve. First, I need to get over that initial “hump” of simply getting up and getting moving. Second, I need to figure out a way to avoid distracting myself while I’m going through those mundane preliminary steps that “normal” people take for granted.

On to the first problem, then. To solve this, I attach a silly reward to just moving. For example, if I need to get up to write that email to my accountant, I’ll tell myself I can go grab a piece of candy from the kitchen. (Mmm… Fuzzy Peaches…) I pretend the mundane action is actually for something I want to do rather than for something I don’t want to do. It sounds ridiculous, but you really can trick your brain this way, and quite easily, too. And it doesn’t have to be food. It can be anything. Sometimes the reward is pulling faces at myself in the mirror. Honest. I’m like Jim Carrey up in this bitch.

To solve the second problem, I give myself pep talks or do stand-up soliloquys as I walk about finishing those mundane preliminary steps. In this example, I might say stuff like, “Bezuidenthustra, it’s taxin’ time! Let’s go, taxes, let’s go! In the closet, dude. Taxin’ time in the closet. No comment.” And so on, and so forth.

It’s ridiculous, and it doesn’t even have to be related to what I’m doing. Just the act of talking out loud kills a lot of the noisy “channels” in my head and helps me stay focused on these stupid little things I don’t want to do. Sometimes I just say the same silly things I would say to my brothers because they come out of my mouth almost automatically (e.g. “Schweeeeeeet! Booya, grandma! Booya!” Don’t ask…). But sometimes it helps to be very direct and explicit. For example, I could repeat the mantra, “Okay, don’t forget: papers in closet, ass in chair, email open. Papers in closet, ass in chair, email open.” Rinse. Repeat. And, typically, once I finish that last mundane step and am actually at the point where I could begin the task, I’ll say, “Okay, let’s do this!” Pure pep talk. 110 percent, boys. Take it one game at a time. Or something.

Do I look insane? Probably. Do I care? Hell no. I’m finally figuring out how to get things done. Besides, I am a little insane.

Yup, that’s how complicated stupid little things are in my life, and it’s all thanks to you, ADHD. People should know this shit. It’s no joke, son!

But pain in the ass or no pain in the ass, I’m getting shit done. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a mirror waiting and I’ve got me some faces to pull, baby.

Micromanagingly yours,

  1. […] blogged a short while ago about how I’ve fine-tuned a method to get past one of your nasty habits. That’s great and all, but now that I’m self-employed and having to create my own work […]

  2. J says:

    I know this is old, but I still want to comment.

    Thank you for this. It made me laugh…But it also resonated with me and it made me realize that I really do have a problem, and I need to see someone about it. What I’ve been thinking about for a long while with ADHD.

    This is my life. This is why my life is impossible. Especially right now, during finals. I have so much to do…and I haven’t even started most of it. And it’s not that I don’t want to…I just CAN’T. And I cry thinking about it. Literally cry. I’m jealous of my friends who can do their work. I tell them that and they think I’m being facetious…I’m being incredibly serious.

    But..I do the talking to myself thing to remember what I’m doing.

    Today, I was in the library, got up to return something to the desk, and was talking to myself about what I had to do when I sat down, in the maybe 50-feet walk to the media desk and 50-ft back (maybe not 50 feet; I’m bad at measuring distances). And I’m sure I looked crazy. People looked at me. People look at me when I talk out loud all the time. I don’t care. It’s what I do. Or else I’ll forget what I was doing.

    I also talk to myself to do little tasks…I was just tearing up feeling anxious and overwhelmed about the term paper I need to do that I haven’t done much for…but I was like (outloud to myself) “Well, this is what you can do, your reading for tomorrow. Get your book. You *can* do *this*.” Which I can, it’s much simpler. I got the book…and ended up online. But still, I’m gonna read after I post this reply.

    But anyway…thanks for this.

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