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“I’m Sick of My ADHD! There, I Said It!”

I know there are lots of positive things about having ADHD, but some weeks when the mess and forgetfulness is too much, it feels just plain awful.

I’m tired of it.

I know there are a lot of positive things about ADHD. I’m a creative thinker; I can multi-task. I can hyperfocus. I tend to get obsessed about things, which can be both a good thing (crocheting sweaters is a productive activity) and a bad thing (collecting hand-woven infant wraps is not). I have good qualities, and some of those good qualities are partly my ADHD neurochemistry. I appreciate that.

But I’m sick of it.

[Free Handout: Get Organized In One Weekend]

My husband cleaned out my car last week. That sucker was clean. You could see the floor. He’d chiseled off the Splenda packets dried into the cup holders. He scoured out whatever the kids had dumped in the back that had brought the fruit flies. He rescued gummed-up library books. That van was clean.

It stayed that way for five days. By then, the kids were dropping French fries again, seeding the back with Snappie Peas and half-empty juice boxes. They brought in books and left them there, then dropped things on top of them. Their ukuleles were tossed haphazardly in the back for anyone to pick up and play.

My front seat bristled with drink carriers, and Chick-fil-A cups, and bags, bags, bags: a big purse, a small purse, the kid’s activity bag, the dog’s bag. Receipts and straw wrappers had begun to congregate under my feet-in five days. That’s all it took. Now, two weeks in, it’s messy and shoe-filled and impenetrable and somehow has a bargain-sized load of Charmin Ultra filling the extra kid seat. French fries fall out when I open the doors, along with Wendy’s French fry containers.

It will stay this way until I clean it again. When I stand back, and gaze upon the totality of mess in my van, I can’t think of where to start. As other people with ADHD know, if you can’t figure out where to start, you have no hope of completing a task.

[Self-Test: Is Your Clutter Out of Control?]

This would not happen to a neurotypical person. They’d just keep the damn car clean in the first place, and remember to carry things inside.

I’m tired of it.

It’s not just the mess in car and the house-specifically my bedroom and bathroom, where you can’t see the floor. I had promised a friend I would watch his son one day. This was a big deal, since he was a dear friend from college with whom I’d just reconnected; his son is the same age as my kids. It was a giant favor to get him between daycares.

Chris told me he’d drop his son off at noon, and I thought, I’ll have to have him drop off Bert where my kids, Blaise and August, take their music lessons, since they have ukulele lessons from 11 to 12. This is the last time I had that thought. Even though it was Tuesday, even though the boys always have ukulele lessons at 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning, I never recalled it again. That is, until their teacher texted me on Tuesday at 11:05. “You coming this morning?” she asked.

[“Perfect” Is Pointless]

“No,” I had to say. So I’m out $40 for missed lessons, all because I can’t keep my damn dates straight.

A neurotypical, organized mom would have remembered to tell Chris he had to drop Bert off at my boys’ music lessons, not my house. Or she would have sent her husband, who’s home for the summer, to take the boys to their lessons while she met Chris at the house. That neurotypical mom would have done any number of things. But instead, ADHD me, as usual, can’t cope with basic planning skills.

I’m sick of it.

Basic planning skills escape me. We went on vacation the other week. I tried so hard to pack everything. I organized my makeup. I organized my other toiletries, and packed my medicine. I remembered every single item of clothing I’d need, and then some.

But I forgot hairspray, and I forgot detangler — the two indispensable items for untangling my youngest son’s longish blond hair every morning. So he ran around for five days looking like an unkempt, dreadlocked hippie spawn. My middle son had flat hair because I’d forgotten his hair wax; my oldest had Back to the Future locks without the aid of detangler and surf wax. They were dressed. They had clean faces and appropriate shoe wear. But their hair said call social services.

A neurotypical mom would have seen the hair-care stuff on the vanity and swooped it right into the toiletries bag. She might have remembered their toothbrushes, too. And their toothpaste.

I’m so tired of it.

ADHD may give me many good qualities. It may set me apart, it may make me who I am. It may help me out once in a while. But sometimes, ADHD just feels like a disease, a neurological dysfunction. It screws me up. It makes me messy. It keeps me from doing things that neurotypical people do without thinking. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to my positivity, to my delight in hyperfocusing, to my joy in creativity. Today, I’m going to let myself be sick of ADHD.

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  1. Breathe.

    Don’t compare yourself to a hypothetical neurotypical person. Non-ADHD parents have sticky and messy mini-vans too. (I still find stray french fries in the van years after the kids have grown.) The more kids per trip; the more mess. Give yourself credit for the more important facts like ‘all children survived the trip’.

    You forget to document an appointment you’ve agreed to in passing through the day? That’s frustrating the first time (and exasperating the tenth time). You’ve identified an ADHD symptom that causes you repeated problems so try to find a means of minimizing its impact. Try to find some way to immediately document commitments to your calendar. If that ‘solution’ doesn’t always work try another. Expect less than perfection. Forgive yourself. (ADHD is persistent and its symptoms do sometimes win.) Try something else.

    Oh before you leave for your next van trip give the kids a trash bag and tell them to put their existing trash from the van into it. It won’t be perfect but it is a start.

    Cut yourself some slack. So the kids’ pomades aren’t perfect while on vacation? So what? Teach them to use a comb and get on with their lives.

    Your sanity need not be dependent on ‘perfection’. That requirement comes from within you and oly you can relieve yourself from it. Try.

  2. I second what IsThereHope said. Nobody is perfect. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I sometimes forget appointments. Thank goodness for Google calendar alerts – as long as I remember to use it! My car is a mess except on the one or two days a year I clean it. I think that just part of modern parenthood. Those car seats can hide a ridiculous amount of crumbs. Packing things? The first thing I do after checking into a hotel is find out where the nearest Walgreens is…

  3. I never had kids, and I cannot imagine how difficult that must be with ADHD!!! But, I bet you’re a wonderful mom and have so many great qualities when it comes to raising children.

    My car is fairly neat, but I have dogs that mess it up. It used to be nice when I didn’t take them in my car and I wasn’t sharing it with my husband. I can’t even imagine what it would look like if I had kids!

    Vacations or anytime we go somewhere overnight are difficult for me. I make lists (which I now keep), and that helps, but it’s only for ME! I start with morning and think of everything I do, like brush my teeth, wash my face, put on sunblock, etc. Going through a “normal” daily routine helps me remember the things I’ll need to take. But, I’ve also reached a point where I tell myself, if I’ve forgotten something, I’ll just buy it!!!

  4. I’m with Elizabeth on this one; some days ADHD is just – NOPE.

    It’s not about comparing oneself to neurotypical people or beating yourself up, etc. It’s about being fed up with the negatives, which seem most evident in the smallest of things.

    For example, this past Sunday my wife and I purchased a gift card for my niece. At this point, all I remember is where we purchased the card, it has a snowman on it, and that it came in a little green envelope. I have zero clues what the amount of the card was (nothing major for sure) and apparently, I took it out of the center console, where my wife asked me to leave it, for some unknown reason.

    I have this vision in my mind of bringing it into the house and placing it on our kitchen island with positive, happy intent. But now, the thing is missing – or as my 2-year-old says, it’s “disappear-o.” I went through the trash, the recycling, the couch, the toddler’s room, etc. to no avail. All with my wife asking me, “Why did you bring it into the house?” My response, “I’ve got no clue why or even if I did. I don’t remember with certainty.

    Things like this, especially when they pile up, make me tired of ADHD somedays too.

    1. Hello,
      Who are you wonderful people and why can’t any of you be in my life? I’m the only one who has this curse (or admits it?!) and no one in my life understands why my car and home and brain are so cluttered and crazy! I am medicated and my doctor is great but I still struggle every single day. My kids have it too but they seem to cope better…I think because they are better understood by me, their dad and their teachers. I am grateful for that. Dr Hallowell has fantastic books (and lectures) if you have never heard of him – look him up! He is the AdHD god/guru/genius! My son’s counselor is one of his mentees. We are so fortunate. Each day I hate that I can’t motivate myself to have a beautiful home and each year goes by I continue to feel guilt. It is wasteful to feel this way, I know. I know all the things I SHOULD do. I’m sure you all do too.

  5. I feel you. Last weekend I decided to unpack and organize my home office (Yes we moved in August and it’s now December). The task took all weekend. Thinking I was ahead of the game, I realized I had tickets to the ballet for the family on Sunday. I proudly proactively listed them for sale, knowing we wouldn’t be able to make it. A single mother with three young children bought them. We had a nice chat and I felt proud of myself for helping this single mom out and not wasting the tickets. I had been proactive and made a little cash. W-R-O-N-G!!!! The tickets we for Saturday. Oy, so this poor woman goes all the way downtown with her three kids to the ballet on SUNDAY and couldn’t get in to the sold out show. She was furious, and I don’t blame her. I ended up refunding her money and giving her a $25 gift card to make up for it. I costed myself more money. I explained what I thought happened and that I have ADD and she was very gracious. However, I ruined a possible new friendship and caused her much unnecessary stress. I felt horrible! I told my husband the exact same words, I’m sick of this ADD.

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