Taking One for the Team, ADHD Mom-Style

Dragging myself into action this morning was the last thing I wanted to do — until I realized how much worse it would be for my family if I didn't.
Executive Dysfunction | posted by Katy Rollins
cat, adhd and animals, pet therapy

I was verging on a freak out and it was only 7:15 AM. I had absolutely zero incentive to get out of bed at this point, as far as I could tell.

I woke up this morning to the painfully annoying sensation of one of my 14-year old cats gently flexing his claws into my cheek. After 14 years, you’d think he woulda figured out that the claw-flex only annoys the piss out of me and doesn’t generally spur me into action. This morning was an exception because when I opened my eyes to spit expletives at Cat #1, I saw that Cat #2 was sitting not far away, staring at me. If you have cats, you know the stare I’m talking about. These are the eyes of a sociopath. A cold, calculated stare that, had the claws of steel not dragged me cruelly into the light, would have awakened me with the creepy sensation of being watched.

If one cat is demanding my attention, that means they are generally suffering from the delusion that there is no food in their bowl. I actually have an automatic feeder for the cats, to eliminate the number of things that I have to remember to do in the course of a day. If you have ADHD, and you have cats, I highly recommend the automatic feeder. This isn’t one of those ones that simply dumps the food out as the cats eat it. This one is on a timer and dumps a specific amount of food out, at specifically programmed times. Cat #2 formerly had an overeating issue...she would eat all the food. She grew and grew...and Cat #1 shrunk and shrunk. The feeder slimmed her down, leveled the playing field, and without me having to actually remember anything extra...perfect.

So I realized that both cats were staring at me, and if both of them are staring at me, then that means that they really are out of food, and as I wracked my brain to figure out where the damn food went, I realized that the beagle that I am dog-sitting must have eaten all the cat food before I brought her back to her own house for the night last night.

My husband then walked through the room and gave me the heads up that that was the last of the cat food.

I was just awake enough at this point to have everything else I needed to do today come surging aggressively into the front of my mind. Between the claws, the cat food famine, the fact that I didn’t have my stimulants meds at the moment, and the hurricane of “oh, shit” that was coming into the front of my mind, I was verging on a freak out and it was only 7:15 AM. I had absolutely zero incentive to get out of bed at this point, as far as I could tell.

I would have stayed in bed all day, avoiding reality, if the cat hadn’t kept clawing at my damn face. As I stretched to try to encourage my body to wake up, all signals said “ouch” and “holy crap, you really are almost 40” and “why do I feel like I’m dying? I got 8 hours of sleep last night” and “screw it, I’m not getting out of bed." But I did. And when I went downstairs I was greeted by dirty dishes, piles of filing to be done, random stuff that apparently hadn’t found its way back to its proper spot, coats stacked in random places and a bunch of stuff that I need to pile back into my sewing room as soon as my husband extracts his table that he needs for his music room, from the sewing room.

I had to dig pretty deep this morning to find a way to move myself forward. I am always exhausted like this after two days in a row of running outdoor events — and one of the days was in damp, cold, New England weather. Urgh. My body hurt, my mind hurt, I was behind on a bunch of other work (because it’s impossible to get anything done when I’m on-site outdoors). And I was totally overwhelmed by the scene surrounding me in my house. So much “need” mingled in my mind with the certainty that there was not enough time to get everything done today. And our kids were coming back from their mom’s house — which means the house kind of needs to be in order.

I have been pretty disciplined, recently, about certain routines, despite my native aversion to routines. I committed about a month ago to making sure all dishes are washed same-day, and that at least two loads of laundry get processed each day. And I’ve stuck to that routine. The only exception is on weekends, when I’m running events — and my husband, after working all week, isn’t loving the thought of doing those dishes either (and I can hardly blame him for feeling that way). So they do pile up on the weekend. Today, I just wanted to cry looking at them. I had to give myself a framework of logic to boost my morale — or at least my motivation to get anything done.

I started by reminding myself how much it was going to suck if the kids and my husband came home after school and the dishes were in the way while he tried to make dinner. How much it was going to suck if he was looking around for laundry in the morning when they get up to get ready for school in the morning. How much it was going to suck having all of today’s dishes pile up on yesterday’s. How awful it feels when our physical environment feels out of control — especially when all five of us are sharing space.

So...there it was, my reason for digging in, washing those dishes, and getting the laundry rolling. My family’s sanity. I didn’t enjoy it; I was pretty annoyed to have to do it, but I ended up being glad that I did because I knew the benefits would be worthwhile.

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