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“Oh, I Am Very Weary…”

“…Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, my heart is sick of woe.” — Anne Bronte, a woman who seemed to understand

I’m tired. But not the kind of tired that can be fixed by a good night’s sleep, or even a week’s vacation. It’s the kind of unrelenting tired that comes from a lifetime of feeling swamped and overwhelmed, of constantly running to catch up but never quite making it, of working much harder than everyone around me to meet life’s demands, yet still coming up short. The kind of tired that the neurotypicals in my life just can’t understand. I wish I had the energy to explain it to them, but, alas, I am too tired.

As it happens, I am no longer swamped. My children are grown and gone, I am done working outside the home, and we have sufficient retirement funds for me to hire someone to do the housecleaning. We have downsized to an apartment, so the work and responsibilities of owning a house are gone. I have painstakingly simplified my life to the point that I make the lotus eaters look like Energizer bunnies.

Should be good, no? Sadly, that’s not how we folks with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) operate. All this blissful idleness comes with a generous measure of my life-long nemesis: guilt. The couch becomes less and less comfortable as I look around and see others doing, striving, achieving.

I have friends I hardly ever see because they are too busy accomplishing things and getting the most out of life. Two or three are using their retirement years to write books. A couple have gardens that Capability Brown would envy. Some have remained in productive careers well past the usual retirement age.

So this makes me feel that my indolence is unacceptable. I have to do something to justify the space I take up on this earth.

[Take This Test: ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls]

A lot has been written about how beneficial creative outlets are for our brains and our mood, so one of my early endeavors was to take up sketching, something I had enjoyed as a teen. Today, six or eight years later, my sketch pad contains about a half dozen small pencil drawings. My box of pastels sits unopened and pristine.

I observe my book-writing friends, and decide that if they can do it, I can do it. After spending far too much time deciding on a subject, I finally begin. I immediately get into The Zone, and churn out three chapters in an impressively short period of time. Pretty good chapters, too (she said modestly) — enough so that a reputable agent expressed interest and asked to see more. And then… It was over. No more Zone, no more chapters, no more words, no more book writing. I got tired.

We won’t talk about my late-in-life piano lessons. Either of them.

I look into volunteering, a rewarding way to give back to the community — but all the organizations that look interesting require at least a one-year commitment. I don’t do one-year commitments.

So now I have a new project: I am working hard at eliminating all guilt about not working hard. I am attempting to convince myself that producing an evening meal is a reasonable day’s work, that going to a yoga class is a significant accomplishment, that an afternoon of bridge is not a self-indulgent waste of brain power, and that crocheting afghans for charity is a worthwhile way to spend days on end. (That last one might even be a little bit true.) I spent so many years frazzled, sleep deprived, and limp with mental fatigue that I deserve some rest time now. Don’t I? Please say I do.

Like my previous ventures, this attempt to abolish guilt has not proven hugely successful, but it is at least less exhausting than the others. And I am persevering. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In conclusion, I would like to share with you a new word I learned while working on this blog: clinomania. Look it up. It’s perfect.

And now I must go — I have a very busy afternoon ahead, snipping the scratchy labels out of a couple of new tops.

[Read This Next: Life Is Too Short for Shame]