Today as I left the house to meet friends for a birthday luncheon, I looked at the clock and realized I would be late for lunch. In a moment, I thought, “I don’t get it. How did this happen?”
I laughed out loud and mumbled, “I know, Dana. I know.”
Thirty-nine weeks of working with Dana and our group in ADHD Success Club, and in that moment, I knew futilely raising a hand in the air and saying, “I don’t get it,” was an excuse-making lie I was telling myself. My awareness is sharp, and I can accurately assess what I’m doing well and what needs improvement. At this point, the key to living successfully with ADHD involves troubleshooting my teetering structures, shifting my mindset when necessary, and acting decisively by making small ADHD structural changes. The key for me hinges on the actions.
I have good intentions. I’ve listened to every module and worked the program. I’ve tweaked systems and structures to help me live successfully with ADHD. Still, when overwhelmed, I’ve abandoned essential ADHD structures. On an off day or week, I feel like I backslide to square one, and sometimes in those moments, I beat myself up instead of rationally troubleshooting what went wrong and honestly acknowledging where I am. The choice is mine. When I adopt a fixed mindset and whiningly raising my hand proclaiming, “I don’t get it,” I am like a child with a litany of excuses pretending not to understand. What I’m really saying is, “This is too hard,” ”I don’t wanna,” and “I’m overwhelmed.”
I get it — all too well. I haven’t been maintaining my task list, calendar, and planning because I fell into state of overwhelm instead of rationally troubleshooting by noticing what wasn’t working and making small adjustments. Like my former self, I moved from one system to another without ever really working through what wasn’t working.
Ironically, this year I’ve used my new skills to help students who struggle with organization build routines and consistency. Easily seeing what my students who need to keep up with assignments and schoolwork, I give them a simple system of “to do” and done with a pocketed folder and suggest they keep their calendar and folder on a clipboard out and on their desk in each class. Well, therein lies the solution to my broken system: streamline and simplify.
I hear the voice of my former mentor/spiritual director encouraging me to stay the course, take small steps in the journey, and avoid expecting too much at once. I hear my former principal encouraging me to get out of my head and take action and to notice what works and build on that. When I’m stuck, I hear him nudging me forward reminding me how far I’ve come. I hear Dana reminding me to replace negative self-talk with noticing and adjusting, and I hear her reminding me to work on one thing at a time. Finally, I hear my own voice telling my students, “Pick one area to work on, and start there.” The positive words and step-by-step actions that resonated with me twenty years ago, two years ago, and today show me that I do indeed get it, that I am aware, and that I truly know how to stay the course of living successfully with ADHD.
I see myself as a backsliding-forward-jumping-always-growing ADHD woman who has moved beyond being completely scattered and inconsistent and evolved into a woman who keeps forging forward in spite of setbacks. Acknowledging that veering off the path is part of who I am. As I notice and appreciate the vistas in those moments, I still need to avoid veering off course to to the point that I plummet from the cliff. Instead, I will the find the blazes on the clearly marked path as I forge forward.
Of the seven essential ADHD structures Dana mentioned this week, I have work to do in all of the areas, yet I acknowledge that overwhelm won’t move me forward. As I slow down, acknowledge how far I’ve come, and notice/adjust one thing at a time, I can clearly see my next step involves fixing the planning pieces one at a time. I will begin by looking at how I’m using my calendar and task list. Once I get the planning pieces in place, I can make room for the other missing pieces. Along with that, I plan to make sure I maintain some semblance of consistency during my breaks because the lack of consistency and routines during weekends and breaks makes maintaining systems difficult. Noticing and adjusting my actions as I build consistency and structure will help me maintain and sustain change on my journey to living successfully with ADHD.