Getting back to basics — exercise, meditation, and a healthy respect for the disorder — is the only way to stay a step ahead of my attention deficit.
by Linda Roggli
How many times can I write “It happened again”? A dozen? Five dozen? Five hundred? Even if I pretend not to care about the number, I'm getting tired of repeating my mistakes — especially when I know better, when I have helpful ADHD tools and marvelous ADHD strategies that could (and should) help me avoid these replays.
Yet it did happen again. I misplaced my passport, missed the flight to Australia, and I couldn’t spend time with my husband on the long, long flight. I'm here in the U.S. He's in Sydney. Writing these words makes the pain more intense and the SNAFU more real.
The tortured end result was OK, but in a “This isn’t good but it will work” kind of way. After a lot of tears and a sympathetic Delta agent, I am joining my husband Victor in Australia a day late. That sigh of relief doesn't excuse my arrogance at ignoring solid behavioral strategies that work. Somehow I believe, as an “ADHD expert,” that I can keep right on doing things the way I have always done them and expect good results.
Most of the time that arrogance is rewarded; the results are good. My life floats along fairly smoothly. It’s in the most crushing of ADHD moments that those rutted coping mechanisms fail me—and have always failed me when I am stressed beyond my limits, when I have done 53 things on my to-do list perfectly and can't manage Number 54.
It's Number 54 that humbles me, forcing me to acknowledge the severity of my ADHD when I want to relegate it to the sidelines. It's Number 54 that brings me back to basics: exercise, meditation, self-care, extra time, careful preparation, conscious decisions. Embarrassingly enough, I use only a few of them and only when I decide they are worth the effort. Writing these words also pains me.
I should be more of a role model for my clients, my readers, and my family. I should step fully into the strategies proven effective for adult ADHD and not do them arbitrarily or part of the time.
So what's “wrong” with me that I don’t? Uh, I have ADHD, that's what.
I've known folks who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder and lead near-normal lives when they take their medication religiously. The problem is that when their life is so close to normal that they stop taking their meds. You know what happens: The disorder swings into full gear again until the medication stops it in its tracks.
It's like that with ADHD. When I feel better and get things done after I exercise or meditate, I begin to believe that my ADHD is completely under control. I decide that those activities are eating into my productive hours. I don't have time for them. And then the ADHD swings into full gear.
If I want to float through Number 54 as easily as I did numbers one through 53, I need to stay on my meds. I need to spend time in order to save time by exercising, meditating, and leaving a little extra time in my schedule instead of squeaking in under the deadline. Mostly, I need to stay conscious about my ADHD to prevent a meltdown.
I’ve said many times that my ADHD does not define me. I am more than a label or a diagnosis. I am more than my brain wiring. By repeating that mantra, I lost sight of the impact my ADHD does have on my life. After each meltdown, I snap to attention, giving ADHD the respect it deserves — not in my clients’ lives, but in mine.
All modesty aside, I think that’s one reason I am a good ADHD coach: I stumble and fall like my clients, and I help both of us back to our feet so we can remember what works and what doesn’t.
Today, I have my passport and my visa packed safely in my carry-on. I will leave for the airport with time to spare. I have already exercised and will meditate for 10 minutes immediately after I finish this post. Fewer meltdowns, more respect for ADHD and a calmer life. I like it.