February 22, 2017

ADHD -- Ack... Don't Have the Desire

I'm having a hard time getting started on my "shoulds" this morning. This is not an unusual situation for me.

Over the last several years in particular, I've learned enough about myself to know why this is the case: I have ADHD. I never ran shrieking around rooms as a child; I did well all through school; there are times I prefer being alone. All of these things seem to contradict the general perception of ADHD.

Here's the way I explain ADHD: in every brain there is a traffic cop who stands alert, ready to tell our thoughts which ones may go, which have to stop, and which are out-of-line. Every traffic cop starts the job as a newbie, so every kid has to have practice in growing up before their traffic cop works well. In a brain with ADHD, that traffic cop is drowsy at best and asleep at worst. Picture the most chaotic intersection you've ever seen in Mumbai or Paris, and you'll see what a struggle things can be.

All the thoughts.
All the time.
Little to no awareness in the moment of whether this new thought (perhaps a thought on a skateboard) is or is not appropriate for cutting in front of the thought that was in progress (which was the size of a semi).
No rhyme or reason for which thought shows up when and takes over.

Those of us who take medication for ADHD usually take a medication that's a stimulant. It used to puzzle me that those of us with high energy were somehow helped by a stimulant, but the stimulant actually wakes up the traffic cop in our heads. With stimulants, some of us are better able to access our executive function and ignore distractions, stay focused on what truly IS important rather than what's screaming the loudest, and so on.

For me, my ADHD brings about a huge hill between me and whatever I might need to start doing that just doesn't interest me. I like novelty, interesting and exciting things! Routine tasks like laundry, cleaning, meals, showering, and even eating are the same battles in my head that most people have when it comes to running every day or doing math.

The struggle doesn't outweigh the fact that things still have to get done. Whether I like it or not, my family needs to eat. We really function better when we have clean clothes to wear. Today I need to put my head down and do rounds 3 & 4 of painting (2 coats) and sealing (2 coats) trim for my daughter's room so we can get her moved in.

I have ADHD, but God knew I would before I was born. To me, that means there's a way for me to look for him and surrender my self-focus without scolding myself internally, without making myself feel guilty for NOT doing this sooner, without comparing myself negatively to all those people I know who wouldn't have dragged their feet this long... There's a way to get over this battleground so that I am not injured and I can see the truth of who God, my Abba, is more clearly.

For now, I think it means ending a blog post, taking my coffee cup, and heading downstairs.
Maybe I can listen to some of my stockpiled podcasts while I work.

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