My morning routine as an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is often chaotic. How does yours compare?
by Stephen Anfield
Underneath my seemingly organized and focused exterior, there’s a scatterbrained, idea-driven person struggling to conform to a world that doesn’t fully understand attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). A day in my life as an ADD/ADHD adult has more twists than a pretzel, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s a look at what I do and what I’m thinking.
4 a.m. – My alarm is set for 4 a.m. I think sleep is overrated. I jump out of bed ready to go for my morning run. So far, I’m off to a great start!
4:30 a.m. – I return from my run to begin my daily ritual to get ready for work. I start with a shower, which somehow lasts for approximately 30 minutes. How, you ask?
While in the shower, ideas run through my head as quickly as the water runs down my back. At some point, I’m usually thinking, Jeez, I wish I had a waterproof pad and pencil to jot all of this down! I know I’ll probably forget by the time my shower is complete. Dang it!
As my skin starts to resemble a prune and the hot water seems to quickly become colder, I come to a painful realization -- I haven’t even touched the soap! Frantic, I grab my man pouf, squeeze out some body soap, and begin quickly scrubbing my body.
Time in shower: approximately 30 minutes. Time actually scrubbing and getting clean: one minute. Amazing, right? Yes, I know.
5 a.m. – As I’m drying myself, I’m giving myself a verbal thrashing, thinking, Seriously, Stephen? How the heck did you stay in the shower for 30 minutes?! Who does that?! I quickly dry myself off and head to my room to complete a previously started thought: what to wear. You’d think I’d know by now, having briefly thought about it in the shower, but no. I skipped to another thought too quickly to finish the one previously started! This is where it gets crazy. Are you ready?
5:05 a.m. – I spend about 5 to 10 minutes thinking about what to wear, and for some reason I think it’s a good idea to turn on the television. I sit on my bed, watching the morning news for some unknown amount of time. After a while, I reach for my cell phone to see what time it is. Suddenly, it’s 5:45!
5:45 a.m. – By this point, I’m thinking, How did I manage to lose so much time?! Clearly, I entered some sort of time warp. Side note: This is precisely why some of my friends call me McFly (a reference to spaced-out Marty McFly in the 1980s movie Back to the Future). Frantic (again), I find something ironed and put it on. I’ve mastered the art of tying a tie, so thankfully, that doesn’t slow me down.
6 a.m. – I head to the bathroom to floss and brush my teeth, and because of accidents that have happened in the past, I throw my tie over my shoulder so it doesn’t get wet. This is the least favorite part of my morning, but I manage to stay focused until the entire task is complete. There are days when I also manage to get toothpaste on my shirt and/or tie, but not today. I thought ahead!
6:10 a.m. – I head back to my room to get my cell phone, charger, and shoes and head to the kitchen. By this time, I am nearing departure, and I’m thinking, Don’t forget your medicine, don’t forget your medicine... I make breakfast, pack my lunch, and begin to gather my bag to head out the door to catch my bus. Luckily, the bus stop is less than 30 yards from my door, so no worries there.
Somehow, the television draws me in again as I try to figure out what the weather is like. You’d think I already know from watching television earlier in the morning, right? Not so much. By this time, I’ve already forgotten what I watched. I grab my laptop, check e-mail, and before I know it, it’s 7 a.m.
7 a.m. – (Insert your choice of four-letter expletive here!!) It’s time to head to the bus stop! I quickly grab everything and run out the door. I tend to jiggle/twist the knob three or four times just to make sure I did, in fact, lock the door. I speed walk to the bus stop and wait. As I’m waiting, you better believe my thoughts haven’t stopped yet. I wonder, Did I take my medicine? Wait, I did, right? Okay, Stephen, replay your every move this morning...
I run back to my place, stand at the door, and search through my pockets and book bag for my keys. I find them quickly and proceed to go inside. I take my medicine, head for the door, and begin my speed walk to the bus stop (again). This time, though, I did run out without locking the door. I make a quick turnaround to lock the door and head for the bus stop (again).
7:05 a.m. – I’m on the bus! A little trick I use to get focused for the day (because clearly I’m not at this point) is to play a game on my iPod Touch called Tap Tap Revenge. It’s hard for me to sit still on the bus, so instead of scaring people with fidgeting, I play this game instead. If you’ve not played it, it takes some getting used to, but it’s a lot of fun for the ADD/ADHD mind.
7:30 a.m. – I arrive at the Pentagon Metro Station and wait for my blue line train into Washington, D.C. I usually wait for about five minutes, at which time I stop playing Tap Tap Revenge and whip out my Droid Pro. I usually read SmartBrief during this leg of my trip until I get to my destination.
7:45 a.m. – I arrive at Foggy Bottom Metro Station, and my Vyvanse hasn’t kicked in yet. I will admit that I am slightly irritable when it comes to the following people during my commute:
7:50 a.m. – I arrive at my final destination: work! I’m here until about 5 p.m.
If you’re not tired from reading an average morning in my ADD/ADHD life, then I’ll gladly trade you! As you can see, there are a number of things that cost me valuable time, and I am trying to think of ways to shorten those times. Do you have a similar (or worse) morning schedule? What are some things you do each morning to keep you moving? I’d love to hear your thoughts!