Coming to terms with ADHD

After my recent subscription to /r/adhd, I realized how important it can be to share experiences. Even when it is something very personal and seem unlikely that anyone can relate to it, it can be quite helpful for someone who thinks she’s alone with her struggles. A while back I deleted most of my old blog posts feeling embarrassed of their suspected cringeworthiness. Now I think it was a mistake. I am thinking about resurrecting them from archive.org.

In this post I want to talk about how I came to the single instance of my life when I am not completely lost in self-pity for being too lazy and undisciplined. Perhaps it was this self-loathing that slowly turned to depression, and a bad event finally pushed me into the hole that I believe I am out of now.

I started my research on ADHD when my doctor pointed I might have it. At that time I was in limbo of a special kind. I was quite used to the struggle of making myself do work that wasn’t interesting anymore. I was also used to the periods of time when I was simply incapable of doing any work. But what made me go to the doctor was a relatively longer period of true nothingness. Nothing would excite me, no matter what I tried. The chaos inside my head got so out of control I was often talking to myself in an attempt to materialize the voices and solidify the line of thought so I could deal with them one at a time. Nothing worked. I would often contemplate suicide because my mind just wouldn’t shut up about how pathetic I was. It was then I decided to consult help from a professional.

I have not reached a solution, perhaps there is no solution that solves everything. But here is a list of things that has made a huge impact in helping me come to terms with my ADHD.

Keep a daily journal

Try to know yourself. Understanding why you are thinking what you are thinking can be immensely helpful. It will help you figure out the flaws in your thinking, and how to make up for them. For example, a pat routine has saved me so many times once I started noticing that how often in a single I would forget my wallet or my phone or keys. Small things like this add up to make life miserable, and often go unnoticed in the storms of thoughts we face every day.

So much of the overwhelmingness can just be let gone by writing it down. Try to be your own therapist, try to witness yourself. Not to participate, or engage, just analyze. It can be quite an exhausting thing to do, but I’ve found it to be more helpful than meditation. When I write in my diary, I find myself to be much more in control of life the next day. It’ll also help you figure out which of your ideas are actually work-able and which are just fluff that need to go in trash can.

Write stuff down

You don’t need to wait for the night to fall before you can write in your diary. Writing often during the day is quite helpful too. Write anything and everything down. Is it something you want to do but can’t right now? Create a todo entry. Just had a brilliant new idea? Capture it. Invest in a tool that can help you capture your thoughts quickly. Make this process a part of your life. I use Emacs’ Org mode which has a brilliant capture system, and I am very happy with it.

Delegate to your future self

You don’t need to do all the hundred things you have thought of, today itself. Delegate them to your future self. I don’t remember where I learned it, but it is very helpful to treat your future self as a different person, and just assign tasks to him that you don’t have time to work on right now. You can schedule stuff you capture right away, or you can have a weekly review when you sort everything you captured in the week.

Review weekly

It is very important to review everything you capture on regular intervals. It’ll give you confidence regarding your system, you could trust yourself more. When you can start trusting your future self, things becomes a lot very easier. You also become better at estimating stuff, so the commitments you give to other people bring you that much less anxiety.

Respect the decisions made by your past self

Only way you can trust your future self to finish what’s assigned to him is if you respect the decisions made by your past self. You don’t have to beat yourself up too much about it either. Understand that it’s not easy to estimate things. If we could predict things very reliably, we could open shops as psychics. Try to achieve “eventual consistency”. Not everything is equally important. Make sure that if something has been assigned to you, it eventually gets completed.

Find something you can attach meaning to

It’s helpful to have something to call home. A principle that you wouldn’t compromise with. I have chosen to attach meaning to the quality of the work I do. That’s where I try to find solace. That’s what I use to bring myself to peace, when I can’t control the mess in some parts of my life. It might be one of the cardinal sins, but this kind of pride helps build confidence to face life.

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