I know your post is from a year ago, but I had to respond because I feel like I could have written your post myself. I am also 34 years old, have been struggling with SLS my whole life and was only diagnosed with ADHD and an “impaired” processing speed a year ago. I too, have a boyfriend that processes things much faster than average people, who has been extremely frustrated at my slow processing speed and was the reason I went and got a diagnosis. He has eased up since then, but it has been a journey of self discovery and reflection ever since this diagnosis, and for me constantly having to articulate and advocate for my needs and explain my struggles with my boyfriend so we can have a better relationship. I am intelligent and have excelled at many things in my personal and professional life, but have also suffered in both arenas due to my ADHD and SLS. I find you naturally gravitate towards work and people who are okay working with your kind of mind. (Except for boyfriends, maybe…opposites attract…yin and yang? haha).
I have run the gambit of emotions over my struggles with SLS and ADHD. I realize now that for my whole life, I have been creating my own hacks and work-arounds to deal with my own brain. Here are some of the tips I’ve learned so far, and I hope to learn more through all of you on these forums and articles.
1. Be Forgiving, Have Patience and Relax: towards yourself and others! Staying humble also gets me there and I see this as a huge strength. I am a field manager in marketing and events production which can be very fast-paced and high-stress field, but I have found that when I relax and have patience and show forgiveness towards others, I get respect, appreciation and dedicated staff in return. You have to treat yourself this way– you know that you are successful and intelligent and that you will comprehend any problem or issue with time and patience. Relax and give yourself the space to do so, and try not to beat yourself up over it. I will ask staff to email me with special requests and further info that I am not prepared to talk about at the time of question, or know that I know I will forget to address later on, but will remember it if I see it in an email (which allows me time to think and respond to it). I also have a thing with being “ready to receive” new information–I will tell other managers or staff that I am not ready to receive this info or that project (it has now become a joke, and people will jokingly ask me if I am ready to receive this or that thing, but they allow it and I take it in stride 🙂 ) but that they can check back with me in 15 minutes or an hour or so. I can be still working through something in my mind or am struggling to finish up something else, and seek to buy myself more time.
2. Have a sense of humor / Don’t take things too seriously: Humor has got me through everything in life. When I start to take myself too seriously, this is when I begin to beat myself up for things I don’t like about myself and start comparing myself to others. Like about how I have to work so much harder than those around me to finish the same task, how it takes me so much longer to do seemingly every day things. I used to be a bit of a perfectionist when I was younger, and while I excelled academically because of it, I stressed and slept little and had a very uncompromising outlook on life and those around me. I started to realize that my ridiculously high standards were keeping me from being every day happy, and that close friends and others thought I was judgmental, and began to share less with me. And that’s not fun or funny at all. My humor is self-deprecating, but I strive to again stay humble and be honest with others through jokes and stories about what I struggle with, and this is often disarming and bridge-building. There is strength in sharing your struggles with others, and when you follow that up with doing a steller job at whatever it is you are trying to do, others take notice. While it does take me longer to do the same task as someone else–it won’t actually be the same, because I’m the one who did it. I have my own unique way of interpreting and sharing information, and while someone else may do something faster than me, the quality of what I produce has my unique stamp on it, and it is often more thoughtful and creative.
3. Keep (a positive) Perspective: Know your value and worth, and know that things will work out when you give yourself the space and time to let them. We just need more time to sort it out. Ask for it, voice it, and take that time. Sometimes others just need more reassurance that we will get there because we aren’t responding as fast as they would like. When you respond to a situation or question or scenario in a wise and thoughtful way, after asking for that space, that speaks for itself. You have a Masters because you deserve it, you and your boyfriend would not be dating each other if either of you felt like the other was inferior and undeserving of the other’s respect (I hope :). Have faith in yourself and give others the opportunity to have some in you. Reassure yourself and them if you need to and stay positive. You are doing the best that you can and it has gotten you THIS far, you are not failing by any means! 🙂 People are seeking YOU out for assistance, you are in charge and you respond in your own way.
4. Little Hacks:
–When having a conversation and I am struggling to interpret the info, like Susanvw mentioned above, I will sometimes ask the other person to repeat what they are saying, or I will repeat it back as I interpret it, which then allows the other person to agree/disagree or rephrase. This helps me work through my understanding of what they are telling me orally, also shows that they I’m engaged, while I also am interpreting what they’ve said. I often ask for further clarification, or for someone to slow down, or to revisit something they have said. I say all this with utmost respect and with all the facial expressions and body language that show that I value what they have to say, that I am engaged, and I want to respond to them thoughtfully. If I can’t get through something then, I will ask for time to think on it, because what they have said is “interesting”, or that I want to give their issue the time it deserves in a response. (In school I would often take home a lot of reading and notes to revisit later so I could go over it in a relaxed, slower paced environment on my own terms.)
–I also try to beef up my knowledge on whatever topic is scheduled to be addressed ahead of time (in school I would read ahead, so when this new information is presented I could keep up with discussion) through research on a client, someone’s project, their background etc. Depending on the scenario, if it’s for work I ask for topic materials ahead of time, to prepare me for candid discussion.
–Timing how long it takes me to do things, even just taking a shower, help me manage and plan my day better, and stay on top of tasks. Knowing I take longer to do X than Y, I can schedule that time in or reprioritize things. Having a schedule and a routine also help me give myself the extra time I need to process various things throughout the day–though my ADHD self both loves and hates a schedule, I can’t lie to myself that I’m more productive when I’m not on a schedule.
–Also-BREAKS. Lots of timed breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk, do something other than work is important.
–Lastly, do you have a workout you like to do, some sort of physical practice? For me, yoga in the morning has helped IMMENSELY. Before that it was a meditative sort of running. I usually do a hot yoga or a more athletic form of yoga that pushes me to focus on my body while listening for direction from the teacher and intuitively feeling my way through the practice with my body in a physically arduous way–and this has helped me to feel centered, relaxed and more present throughout my day. They say that a high intensity workout is good for ADHD people–but what physical activity is not good for you? I have found that this has helped my processing speed, focus and presence. The yoga community is also a supportive and open-minded group that teaches repetition and gentle understanding with your body. I have found that the mentality there has really worked for my personal struggles and allowed me to feel good about myself, and remind me that I’m not alone.
YOU’RE not alone, and we all hear you! Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story! I have found that the more I share about my struggles with ADHD and SLS, the more supportive and understanding other people are, and I am able to address head-on thoughts others may have about my processing time or other issues. Sometimes THEY end up being the ones to help me find better ways of dealing with my SLS/ADHD! I hope we all are able to learn a little from each other on this platform and elsewhere, and I wish you forgiveness, patience, a relaxed mind, a sense of humor and a positive outlook in all that you do.