Friday, August 27, 2010

Alchemy: Turning "Impatience" Into "Efficiency"

Many of us adult ADHDers have manifestations of our ADHD that impact our employment, or our employability.

Some of us get fired. Some of us say the wrong things at the wrong time. Some of us are impatient with workplace protocols and processes.

My life being what it has been, I have always been just fine at playing the game. Notice that I use the word game. I am not one to arbitrarily bow to authority, but I will if it serves the mission and if it serves what I feel is right. I was raised by people who knew how to play the game, how to switch code to get along in whatever environment they needed to. I have learned a lot from my mother, in particular, about how to dress, how to talk, how to act, how to write cool stuff like resumes and cover letters, and personal statements for school. How to dress for an interview. How to be diplomatic.

Ex: How to say things like "I'll get back to you on that." when people ask you a question at work, instead of blurting ADHD things out immediately, and possibly blowing your cover. Blowing the cover that's allegedly hiding that you have ADHD, are a little left of center anyway, that you are female, that you are...a million other things that don't generally give status in our culture.

It took practice. And I started early. At about age 8, riding in the car with my mother, she introduced me to the concept that just because something pops in your head, doesn't mean you have to say it immediately. This gave me power, and I loved it. I practiced and practiced and practiced. I still spend a lot of energy at work and in meetings and in other public places practicing it. I think it's part of the reason that when I'm at home, I have a hard time not talking (in which case, sometimes blogging is really all I can do to channel my raging inner monologue). I simply need a break from all the self-editing sometimes.

So, I still have urgent thoughts pop into my head. I am still REALLY impatient. I still have snarky thoughts and somewhat inappropriate or ill-timed observations intrude upon my thought process and threaten to come out of my mouth. But I've learned ways to work with these things in the workplace, or make them "look" like something else.

Ex: when people are explaining processes to me in minute step by step detail, I simply can't wait to know the outcome. I will ask questions like " I'm having a hard time seeing where you are going with this, can you tell me the end-point and circle back to the process?". If they are willing to do this, I am WAY more relaxed because then the details make sense to me, and generally, people think that this type of question demonstrates interest on my part. If they don't get what I'm saying and are totally mired in the details, it really kills me. It may be more of a function of my personality that I see details as subjective. Not important, only important if they really serve the task. Add ADHD to that and I am REALLY driven to eliminate details I see as unnecessary. Often, I find myself listening to people's processes going "why in the hell would you do that like that"...but...probably not really an ADHD issue.

Ex: I can't stand sitting through orientations and lectures. So I take notes. People think it's because I'm interested. It's generally because I'm dying having to sit there. Note-taking also accidentally makes you retain a little info...or it just gives you a cheat sheet for later. Or I just doodle. But I LOOK busy :) Haha...actually, I generally retain more information if I'm writing, than if I just sit there and LISTEN. In class, I used get better grades after I figure out that I needed to bring People magazines to read during lectures. I would hide them in my textbooks. I could look at the pics while listening. If I didn't bring them I would want to leave the room a few times during class and just walk around. So: All hail the acceptable fidget!

Ex: I like to volunteer at work for tasks that other people don't like to do, because I like to do them by myself. It's not that I'm a total misanthrope, but a) it gets you brownie points b) it gets the job done and that's good for everyone c) it BREAKS THE MONOTONY OF ROUTINE, which I NEED to SURVIVE most jobs d) working in groups is stressful for me...when I already see the end-point, and have already figured out a way to do it that will get it done FAST, I get frustrated having to wait for others to catch up. I also get frustrated having to have a BIG talk about how to get something done as a group, when I can get it done faster as a solo artist. I'm not saying I'm always right, only that most plans I come up with alone, will get it all done faster than if I have to spend time talking to other people about putting together a possibly more efficient plan. So: being an enthusiastic volunteer has many benefits!

Ex: I am perfectly aware when I'm bored off my behind at work. When I have that feeling I have to assess if it's because I'm just frustrated with "the details" or if it's a real big-picture lack of challenge problem. And if it's a big-picture problem, I communicate to my boss that I'm ready for additional challenges. And if they don't have any...then I leave. Some people can just live a routine for years. I can't. As soon as the challenge for me is gone, and there is no compelling reason for me to continue, I simply won't do it. So: Learn to assess your boredom at work in a way that will help you and let YOU decide when you are done, not someone else.

Ex: Sometimes, instead of leaving jobs, I simply get another one. So I usually have at least 2. It breaks up my routine in a way that for me is helpful. I'm learning to LIMIT my breaks in routine...for me, that is a challenge, but I am learning that I really DO need a little distraction to keep me in line. So: a little excitement can be a good thing.

To make decisions about how to manage my ADHD though, I have to be paying attention to my own thought processes. At a young age it was pointed out to me that I was impatient...that I had BIG emotions...that I had BIG opinions. Nothing wrong with any of those, but the responsibility that comes with such realities, is that I had to learn to take responsibility for shaping and applying and managing those aspects of myself in ways that make life more pleasant and fruitful for me, and those around me.

It takes practice and it never ends...and sometimes, it does make me feel like there's two of me. So lately I spend MORE time in places where I don't have to modify myself quite so much. I still have the skills though, if I need them, to "play the game". It feels good to have both options available to me (even better now that I have learned more about putting myself in more ADHD-friendly environments and situations, so it's all a choice, not a mandate).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writing resolutions early...

...I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I have some resolutions I'd like to make for 2011. If any of this is at all, truly and reasonably within my control, I would like 2011 to look something like this:

No new projects.
No changes of residence.
No big surprises that won't make me smile.

Tossing those pleas out into the universe and praying for good results. It's like tucking the crust around the top of a pie, popping it in the oven, and then hoping that I remember to take it out of the oven.

Tough Love Time. Rawhide tough. Grrrrrr.

Dear fellow ADHDers. It's tough love time. Anything I'm about to write is as much a conversation I am willing to have (and have had) with myself, as it is an imparting of words to you:

If you have ADHD it is your responsibility to work for accountability in your daily life, to yourself and to others.

If you have ADHD, it is YOUR responsibility to work for understanding of YOUR ADHD and how it affects you, impacts your life, and affects the people around you.

It is NOT your responsibility to be perfect.

But it IS your responsibility to try. Not to talk about how you are going to try, but to really try.

It is your responsibility to figure out how to be on time when you really need to be.

It is your responsibility to figure out how to remember to do the things that you tell others you will do.

It is your responsibility to remember that the feelings of others are important and deserve care.

But it is also important to stand up for and express your own feelings, and defend your positive coping strategies, even if other people think they are weird, so long as they are not negatively affecting others.

It is YOUR job to figure out which study skills will best help you with your education.

It is YOUR job to do what you say you will do, or learn to set limits and learn to say no.

If you don't know how to help yourself, it is your job to seek other sources or people who can help you to help yourself.

It is YOUR job to meet the deadlines that you have accepted responsibility for.

It is YOUR job to own your decisions, and own your choices.

It is YOUR job to work toward your goals in whatever ways you are reasonably able to, and to learn to set reasonable goals for yourself to work toward.

It is NOT the job of your mother, your father, your family, your children, your teachers, your professors, your caretakers, your friends, your colleagues, your boss, your dog, your lover, your landlord, the utility company, the bank, or your employees to make your life awesome...or to accept blame when you can't accept it yourself.

Blaming others will not cure your ADHD.

Nothing will cure your ADHD.

So get to work.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This morning I went to a meeting...

...and I didn't sit in my chair at all. What a great meeting! The kind where you are supposed to give verbal input, don't have to sit through speeches or ramblings, and you can go right up to the front and add or subtract ideas from the visuals.

Nice. More please.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alright fine... can have your little shit donut game, Universe. I'm not even thinking about what you may be up to anymore, because after waking up to a black hole of depression and disinterest today, AGAIN, not even my methylphenidate XR could boost my spirits, although it did provoke my corpse to rise, at least.

Something different happened today though...I rose, and then I decided I couldn't stand another morning like this.

I'm not even tempted by your shit donuts right now because I'm officially on to another plan. I took a little time to really think about the parts of my life that I love right now, and those that I don't. And then I threw a few fishing lures out there into the universe, HARD, in about 20 different but similar directions, to hopefully help to address the ones that I don't. I also entertained some alternatives...ones that in the past would have indeed, shone ahead of me like a glazed, lemon-filled mirage. Meh...don't want them, don't need them. This is a sign of progress. I shall proceed with focus prized over novelty.

I'll try it again tomorrow, too. Ha.