Organize, organize. How does an adult with ADHD make sense of everyday life in times of uncertainty (and stress, and inattention)?
by Jane D.
Frazzled, burnt out, the battle is back. Once again I am on the forefront of what some might call the rat race cranked up a few notches. The Boyfriend doesn’t know about my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but I have a feeling that he suspects it. I have a sixth-sense, which is one of the positive traits of this disorder. He knows that the new job is driving me batty, and that I am spinning wheels behind closed doors.
The fortunate part is that I spend much of the work week at a satellite site away from the Mothership, a blessing in disguise since the boss and colleagues are shielded from the stress, the fear, and the Everest-sized pile of papers. How to organize and make sense of things in times of uncertainty?
Once again the search for the Holy Grail of organizers continues. I am caught between the “to do” list on paper, Excel, and Outlook, along with the monthly and weekly Day Runners. I’ve already accumulated a pile of notebooks and random notes on napkins and Post-it's. The tech-addict friends keep trying to hammer the idea of the iPhone or iTouch in me, but given that I have an aversion to instructional manuals, I fear that I will acquire the gadget and it will end up a paperweight.
The Boyfriend and the myriad of friends think that the He-Boss is the root of the stress. Little do they know that he is only a part of the equation, that there is the constant struggle to stay with the pack. Not a day goes by when I do not blame the hiccups and kinks on the ADHD.
The Boyfriend came to visit last weekend. As a doctor, his life is one of a rat race, too. On call, off call, rounds: It is a new language to me, but what else can I do but suck it up. I find daily life hard enough to deal with, much less the reality that I have seemingly once again fallen for a great guy who doesn’t live in the same city as me. At the most, we see each other once a week. All of the daily trials and tribulations and joys are shared by text and, sometimes, by phone. I find it hard to deal with the reality that, at the end of a long day, I return to an empty apartment overlooking this great city, and am comforted by a half-empty bottle of wine.
The distance and uncertainty of the relationship leaves me holding onto the steel wall, which I cling onto. I stubbornly refuse to give too much of myself. There are secrets that will remain just that. I sweep the small collection of vitamin and pill bottles into a drawer when friends come into the apartment. I’ll admit that the real reason I do it is because I am ashamed of the Adderall, which I feel has run its course. Not only have I once again started to daydream, but I question whether this ADHD medication is the root of the moodiness and restlessness. The one lifeline that I’ve had is pen and paper. I’ve returned to jotting down parts of conversation in a notebook, referring back to names and dates so that I can’t be faulted for not listening. And given the demands of the new job, the everyday living has fallen by the wayside, and I’ve again turned to outsourcing. The entourage includes the maid, $65, the laundry, $8, and the food service that offers door-to-door delivery, $56.
There is also the cost of replacing lost items like the lipstick, umbrella, or pens. I sit, stew, and end up beating myself up over what I consider silly mistakes. These mistakes are reversible or replaceable, but what about losing track of the string of e-mails at work, or forgetting about one of the many impending deadlines. I fear that the day will come when the boss and the rest of the colleagues see the piles and the mess, and they will wonder what happened—and the same of The Boyfriend.
For now I feel safe on the island of pseudo-anonymity, a place where I can wrestle with the notebooks and organizers, and the guilt and blame on my own. A lonely battle indeed.