Sunday, August 30, 2009

ADHD Made Me Do It...learning to say no

One of the keys to the renovation of my life is paring things down. Reducing my commitments. And then learning to create fewer of them in the first place.

Hard to dive into this task when...I literally cannot pare things down further right now.

Not for another 4 months. So I've taken to delegating...but even in delegating you bear responsibility. And I don't want that responsibility right now when I want to be redefining my relationship to responsibility. I'm not talking about abandoning responsibility, or ADHD-ing myself into a totally unrelated and brand-new life trajectory. I mean true and meaningful change of whatever type seems most appropriate.

I'm really babbling abstract here, sorry.

When you have ADHD and have spent much of your life feeling like a failure because you are not "living up to your potential", it is easy to overcompensate by accepting a ridiculous amount of prove to myself, and to others that I was not a failure. But everyone has a limit. I pushed and pushed until I reached mine because I could not stand that feeling of disappointment anymore.

As I pushed myself to follow through with my ideas, I thrilled myself with my ideas and my ingenuity, but terrified myself with my ability to move with lightning speed, my ability to overlook certain kinds of details while boring to the core of others, my abillty to rationalize overcommitment. There's a reason that many women with ADHD are mistaken for bipolar...oh wait, there's a missing piece here that you need...

Allow me a totally ADHD moment of indulgence here, an illustration that I think you really need for this to make any sense at all...when I have one of the "BEST ADHD IDEAS EVER" pop into my head (and when I am not medicated, it happens all day long, over and over and over and...), it is literally like a drug has been injected into my brain and I am high-ass-high and it tugs at me and I cannot stop thinking about it. It is an exciting way to live, always delighted with new ideas. Each idea joyously grabs my arm and demands my attention. This could mean one idea that enchants me for part of a day, it could mean dozens in an hour, pulling me from one thought to another. It is exhilirating...unlike a bipolar high, it is usually much more temporary. I can map world peace in an hour, but not finish a simple spreadsheet in front of me. I can outline a brilliant plotline for a novel I may need to write someday if not this afternoon but forget to check the voicemail. It's a classic ADHD problem, total lack of prioritization, because the tug of the new idea is so great that nothing else matters just then...and there are just so many new ideas. All the time. This is the reality of my ADHD anyway.

Combine this with my fevered drive to disprove the baggage of my past and I've got one big mess to unravel, an avalanche of obligations just waiting to crash down around me because I have indulged more ideas than I should have. Imagine all of those AMAZING ideas...ALL being brought to fruition all at once. And this is part of what brought me to seek help because I realized how precarious my balance was, and how far I could fall.

But the first key to all of sticking it all through. Living with my choices, even though I know that not all of them were good. Ouch. DO you redefine your relationship with overcommitment when you can't shed any of your current commitments? How do you pull yourself up from the bottom you've hit, when you cannot yet shed any of the weights that got you there in the first place? And the answer is...I don't think I can.

It's just limbo. But I'm struggling to see what the lesson is, in this extended torture. Perhaps I'm supposed to just live in this mess a little imprint on my mind what I don't want, what I don't want to do to myself again.

Because I did do this to myself. No matter what teachers matter who I think I let down...I was the only one who could make these choices that brought me here to this mess of overcommitment, this overdose of responsibility...this abuse of myself. That's the real think about THAT in terms of ADHD...every impulse in my body says "fuckit, cut yourself free"...but I have to sit tight...because it is not yet time. I am forced to experience the passage of time in a way that I would never previously have chosen.

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