Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Establishing Routine

Establishing Routine.

It's something that everyone has to commit a little conscious effort too. For me though, and I suspect other adults (and kids actually too) with ADHD, this can be a MAJOR undertaking.

Even when I create systems to organize myself I have to commit effort to remembering that I even created the system. For example...I'm trying to get myself to use Google Calendar. Seems simple right, especially for me, since I'm always on the damn computer...but remember: if I don't see it, it doesn't exist. I forget the calendar is even there, nevermind remembering to look at it. It's just one more hidden layer of reality. Not sure if this is a good long-term solution for me as a result but we'll see.

To those without ADHD, who are naturally organized, this may seem improbable. It may seem "lazy". It may seem " stubborn". It may seem "flighty". And I can't tell you how much it pains me, the awareness that people think that. Think of it this way...I am an extremely intelligent person who spends a great deal of time trying to think of ways to make myself more efficient, and how to be more respectful to other people. I am actually REALLY good at coming up with systems for executing new ideas. I KNOW these things are illogical and that's my point...if I didn't have ADHD, I am actually the kind of person that simply would make more efficient choices, because I am aware that they exist and I do not enjoy the results of this in my life. And I DO try to make more efficient choices all the time...and will continue to do so...but I assure you, it's not laziness. This is hard work, and I'm a damn hard worker.

Establishing a routine often takes me months and months of repeated failures before I'm able to find a way to "trick" myself into remembering or doing something regularly. And when my routine gets disrupted...after all of that effort. Oh...it's breathtakingly awful, and shocking how it blows the routine all to hell. Talk about stress, no wonder I have anxiety up the kazoo.

Let me give you some examples that stun even myself, and they're part of my life.

Prior to the job I have now, I always had jobs where you had either a time-clock, or a salary and a set number of hours to work, so I never had to track my time and turn it in to get paid. Well...I'm a paralegal now. Paralegals can often have erratic work schedules depending on the area of law they work in. They also, whether they are salaried or not, or keep regular hours, often have to track the amount of time they spend on each case, so that clients can be "billed" accurately. This involves taking constant notes about how your time is spent...instead of just "doing". Well...constant interruption is difficult for me to tolerate once I get going because once I'm interrupted it takes forever to get going again. And when I'm really on a roll it is more of a challenge to remember to write every little thing down. So I use little post it notes to write everything down and stick them everywhere, and that helps...

But the problem is, I still have to turn in my hours to get paid. So my notes in the client files about various tasks may be correct...the work is done...the post its are everywhere. But sitting down to fill out the little blanks in the time sheet? Mother....fucker. That kills me. My brain literally goes into hyper-flying-around-the-room-mode. That is, if I even remember to do it. Our bookkeeper at the office "gets" me, so even though she's annoyed, she knows I'm not just trying to drive her crazy...but after three years of dealing with me and my late time-sheet-itis, I'd be annoyed too if I was her.

Now, I finally got into a routine earlier this year where I would turn it in FOUR DAYS ahead of time, which took the time pressure off, and made it easier for me to do. But then there was a holiday weekend or something and it threw me out of my routine and I haven't recovered yet. This past week, instead of being willing to run back to the computer to just print out my check, she was like "tough noogies, I'll get it to you next week". I don't blame her, and I'm not mad about it. I'm just annoyed that it's so hard for me to just BE routine.

Another example. I know how to do laundry. I know how to fold laundry. But I can't stand tasks that are neverending. You know, the ones where you do it, and it's done and you feel great. And then two days later you have to do it all over again. Oh god. Just thinking about it makes my tummy flip flop. Again, I'm a hard worker...I can work until the cows come home...on ideas, and plans, and concepts, and people-centered problems. But my clothes live in two piles.

Yeah, seriously. The clean pile and the dirty pile. That's as far as I get. There really is a little bit of skewed logic in my panic somewhere...I mean it IS annoying to have to do something AGAIN when you already did it before. Argh. My boyfriend hates it, he has all of his clothes organized, and folded, and even ironed. The two pile system is actually an improvement, when I was a teenager it was all ONE pile...yeah. Nice. Sort of disgusting to admit, but...this blog isn't about keeping my pride intact, if it was, I wouldn't be writing it in the first place. And anyway, I'm a grown up now, and I have TWO piles...lol...sophistication!

The boyfriend is helping me little by little. All the stuff that's not daily wear, we have in a pile ready to hang up. A third pile. We were going to do it a couple months ago but after I went and bought hangers for all the clothes I realized I needed hangers for another project and um...stole them from the clothing project for that other project. Oops. Again, annoyed boyfriend. I wasn't trying to sabotage it, I just really needed like 50 hangers for something else, and they were there and I needed them and...and then was too busy to replace them right away. And he thinks I'm trying to be annoying...oh well.

When I think about these kinds of tasks...I wish I could show you a picture of the inside of my brain. Actually it would probably be hilarious to do a scan on my brain when I'm in that moment, either you would see the classic ADHD dead spot, like a black hole in my frontal lobe, sucking out all reason into a far unreachable corner of the galaxy, or you would see my brain ON FIRE. No literally...ON FIRE...hahaha. Burning with the frustration of living the same innocuous nightmare over and over and over and over and over and over and over for 34 years. 34 years of being frustrated with myself because it seems like a smart, proactive person shouldn't have such a hard time figuring these things out.

This is why I LOVE my stimulant medication. I don't feel like it blunts my creativity, or my spark, or my drive. It just seems to shut off the extra, weird layers of "ARRGGHGHGHHHGHGHR CRAP ARRRGGHGHGHGH!" when I can't get my brain to just settle down and focus on something that shouldn't be taking over my life with anxiety. It lets me just get past the routine stuff a little easier...so I can get to the good stuff a little faster.

I know, and accept, that this will ALWAYS be a struggle for me. I guess it's just my lot in life. It's the genes I got...it's the brain I have, and really...my brain does totally awesome stuff all the time, it's not alllll Groundhog Day and black holes...

I sure hope I get my paycheck soon though! Lol....

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