ADD in Retirement!

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    • #112509

      I wasn’t diagnosed with ADD until I was 59, and like many others diagnosed later in life, or in my case WAY LATER. I retired last year and now have trouble coping with my unscheduled life. I had looked toward retirement as a well earned vacation and had planned to do all sorts of things that I never had time for in my work life. Unfortunately, I find my unstructured life filled with stress from all the choices I have. All I had imagined I would accomplish. As a result, I procrastinate and don’t achieve all that I had always imagined and feel that retirement isn’t as great as everyone says it is. I haven’t seen anything on “The ADD Retiree” and would like to hear any thoughts and experiences.

    • #112554

      Well, I’m extremely intrigued by this! Because it sounds so much like what happened to me about 25 years ago, when I changed jobs from an 8-5 office, to an on-call technician position. I had a couple of months of scheduled work to do, reports to write for my customer, and then it was sit and wait for the service calls to come in.

      I started sliding into depression. When I went to my primary care physician, described my situation, and talked to him about my thoughts (which were tending towards ‘not good thoughts’; I’ll leave it at that) his words were succinct:

      “You’ve lost all the structure in your life”

      Some medication, some forced structure added back & things got better. And this was before I myself realized (or even learned) about my own ADD. With that knowledge, what I experienced was practically inevitable!!

      So, yeah, what you’re experiencing is real, the lack of structure and the endless infinite possibilities are a type of hell for you.

      Given that, I’ll turn the question around: What do you think you should do now?

      Looking forward to your and everyone elses’ answers.

    • #112580

      Hey Thomas,
      I went through something similar two years ago. I didn’t have a partner to provide structure with their commitments, so I was really floating about in all that time.
      I started by setting up meetings, courses or events I ‘had’ to attend and built accountability and structure back into my week. Here’s what I did based on my hobbies and interests.
      I signed up for a class at the community college. The hard part was picking just one. I knew that if I immediately signed up to several I would end up not going to any of them. So I picked a tai-chi class, because I would get some gentle movement, enjoy being in a group without having to tell my life-story or listen to someone else’s for 90 minutes.
      I’d recommend picking something ‘super-easy’ to attend. Something where even if you’re low on energy and it’s raining and so on, you’d still manage to get up and attend.

      For my personal well-being I need to feel I serve some purpose. I registered with a local charity supporting the elderly, because I’d been dealing with my elderly parents and hoped it’d bring me some insights. I also wanted to spend time with my dog. Fortunately,I was able to combine the two by visiting an elderly house-bound person once a week with the dog (zen-master poodle). Our role was to be their guests for 60-90 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to realise that all they really wanted was to be seen and listened to, really listened to. They become more animated and happier looking. It is very gratifying to see that simply by being myself, I can bring some cheer. Knowing how they look forward to our visits, reinforces my commitment to keeping the date.
      With that, I had 2 days/ week that were ‘planned’ months in advance. It still felt very ‘open’ and unstructured. So, to that I added dog school. It meant I was doing something with the dog, out in nature in any weather, somewhat active with a group of like-minded people, who don’t mind if you go on forever about your dog (chatty cathy adhd).
      The weekly meetings are always outside and structured by the trainer. All I have to do is show up. When you know your dog is going to do stupid & disgusting stuff inside your home, “stuff” that you’re going to have to clean up, if he doesn’t get him enough mental and physical stimulation….you go to dog school.

      I put those three dates into my smartphone datebook for the rest of the year. Then if a friend calls up, I’ll arrange a meeting outside those times and organise it so I know I won’t be in overwhelm, well most of the time. This has allowed me to ‘hang’ extra outings etc onto the 3 fixed dates. This number of fixed dates works for me, I don’t feel ‘hemmed in’ because it leaves a good amount of time to fill spontaneously.

      One year, I also went on an organised, almost-all inclusive bus tour for a week. That way I finally visited places I’d been meaning to, but hadn’t because my energy tanked every time I thought of all the decisions and steps I’d need to take before going.

      I like learning new things, so I also signed up for online courses. That didn’t work out too well because regardless of whether they were free or expensive, super interesting or mildly so, it was much tol easy to ‘forget’ the online lesson that day and tell myself, I’d read up the next day to catch up. I inevitably dropped out. One online course I finished because it kept me accountable and structured included live real-time interactive video filming. There were only about 10 – 15 people online at one time, all with their webcams turned on. So if you dozed off, left your seat, were interrupted by someone walking in etc, *everyone* in the group saw it. It’s way easier to doze off in class, when the only person facing 300 students is the teacher :)!

      Here’s to finding the right mix of structure and spontaneity! Good luck!

    • #112586

      Thank you Chuk for sharing. Yep your experience sounds so similar. As far what I think I should do…I am going to add structure, as if I am working (actually I do have a part-time job. Instead of worrying about all I want to do…I will pick one or two and schedule my involvement AND in that structure I have to schedule guilt-free time for myself. Your personal story helped convince me about my need for structure. As Nike says…Just Do It!

    • #112587

      It sounds like you really have a handle on things. I had to laugh a few times because the pitfalls you managed to avoid (such as the online classes or signing up for too many classes) were the same things I would have to be aware of and work to avoid. Thanks for explaining your step-by-step action plan…its a great road map for me. Thank you! I appreciate your openness.

    • #113007

      Having been diagnosed with ADHD at 65, three years after my dear husband passed away and my being diagnosed with severe depression, has caused a disruption in my life that I do not know how to fix. For 11 years, I was a math professor at the University of Phoenix but was laid off just before my husband died. I ten worked full time as a math enrichment tutor for Math Corps, but they did not renew my service for years 2-4. I made some errors that had nothing to do with my ADHD or severe depression, so I cannot blame the loss of my job on that. The last attempt at a full-time job ended painfully, as I realized I could not absorb the material in the training class. The trainer went too fast, there were too many distractions in the classroom, and I was unable to make any sense out of the material we were being taught. I forgot material we had covered the previous week. I tearfully left the training class. It was going to be a perfect (I thought) opportunity to work from home where I had few distractions. Even after a month, I am still having nightmares about that time.

      I have a “friend” who is extremely judgmental and is angry that I keep canceling plans with her last-minute. Because of her “loud” lectures when we’re out and the attention she gets because of that, I cannot tolerate spending time with her. I’m afraid to tell her that, because I know if I do she’ll have a “poo poo” attitude and tell me I need therapy (which I do, I know, but not her kind). I also have fibromyalgia, a cadaver vein in my left leg due to arterial blockages (the surgeon keeps saving my leg, thank God; seven operations); Meniere’s disease that’s progressing; osteoarthritis affecting my entire spine; herniated disks pressing on nerves in my back from a fall down a set of stairs in 2007 (pain controlled by pain patches); insulin-dependent diabetes; and other physical ailments and limitations.

      I have been spending quality time at home, trying to dig out from clutter and bad memories. One of my hobbies is baking, and I enjoy creating goodies for my neighbors and celebrations. A friend is helping me come up with a price list to actually sell my creations when ordered, rather than asking neighbors to bring the ingredients to me. I would enjoy that; it gives me something structured to do and the ability to earn a little extra money, too. It also gives me accountability to the people who want my baked goods. Another hobby is reading. I also like to paint, but I don’t have the space to paint like I used to.

      My life is a mess. I’m buried in paper, clutter, bad decisions, bad memories, and debt. Thank God for my two dear cats, although one is 15 years old and quite ill. He’s such a snuggler and my days are filled with trying to get him to eat enough. The six-month-old kitten is a challenge to both of us, but she was a rescue from a neighbor, and I just don’t want to turn her over to the Humane Society. She’s so happy here, and I enjoy her company, too.

      That’s my life in “retirement,” which I never saw coming. My doctor is no help. My RLS is under control, thanks to finding a doctor in the area that was highlighted in the RLS Association. He’s been a God-send to me! When I sleep, I have much better quality. However, I find it easier to take naps than to sleep at night; possibly because of my cats’ schedules.

      I apologize for the length of this post. When I saw the title for this thread, I had to add my experiences. With ADHD, I cannot think of this time of my life as “Retirement.” Retirement is not supposed to be filled with stress, but rather enjoyment for a life lived. But the day-to-day challenges are what keep me busy. I look forward to anyone posting their successes to motivate me to a happier life.

      Thank you.


    • #113212

      Linda, I can sympathize with you about the RLS and how much it affects one’s life. Those that don’t suffer or have never suffered from it don’t know how lucky they are!

      I attended a series of group counseling sessions for adults with ADD/ADHD that targeted the same things that you talked about in your post (disorganization, almost hoarding, piles of stuff to get to, etc.). It was an eye opener. There were a couple of things that I put into practice, But the one that comes to mind is to make a list and force yourself to do at least one thing on that list every day but it’s important to break down your tasks into manageable bits and pieces. For instance, instead of writing “clean out the garage “, write “clean off shelf next to back door in garage.” It’s also important to keep adding tasks to the list until you’re done.

      By the way, I started working on my bachelors degree in 1981 and went back to school a few years ago. In 2016, I began taking online classes to finish my degree and will finally graduate this June!

      I think I was able to stick with it because I couldn’t let my two grown kids see me fail and because I’m a very competitive person and had to get A’s in all my classes! I did struggle with time management and getting assignments in on time but most instructors were pretty accommodating. The disability office of the college, however, was useless as the only accommodation they gave me was a quiet room for tests – as an online student that didn’t really help.

      My point is that not all online classes are undoable, and having ADD/ADHD isn’t an automatic disqualifier for success in online classes.

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