One of the obstacles of being a person with ADD is that you feel overwhelmed almost every minute of every day. The stimulation of everyday life is simply a huge spiral of thoughts, decisions and tasks waiting to be completed.
I spent many years in my car. Literally, in my car. I would take the kids to school, and they were always in three different schools. Even though my oldest and youngest attended two of the same schools, their age difference never had them in those buildings at the same time.
My oldest son has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therefore, his day, and my day began with routines that would help him begin the school day on the “right foot” to insure that he would not have any meltdowns, or if nothing else, he would get into the building without getting upset. Each one of my children had some sort of need each morning. I tried desperately to have everything ready the night before, but of course with kids, that is almost impossible. As much as I tried to avoid chaos, we had those days when they were eating in the car as I drove, and sometimes completing homework they had forgotten to tell me about or I was signing permission slips at traffic lights.
That hectic ride would end and I would head off to work. In the beginning when they were younger, I worked full time, but, luckily, I was able to change that to part time for several years. This gave me some down time to go for a long walk, to collect myself, to refocus, as the running from place to place was very draining on me both physically and emotionally.
After school we would stay in our car as I drove my oldest to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. As time wore on, I was able to make changes to these routines, but not before we added the younger kids activities of : soccer, basketball, baseball (briefly), scouts, religion classes music and theater. My oldest became part of an agency that offered social classes for young people with autism, so my time in the car grew longer. At times, I would pack dinners and feed them in the car. There simply was no time and living on fast food was unhealthy and not in our budget.
When they were a little older and I did not have to stay with them at activities, I would try to go home in between, but often that was more trouble than it was worth. I put more mileage on my car driving locally than my husband did driving his car to another state to work each day.
The year that my middle child was graduating high school and my youngest was graduating eighth grade saw our family so busy, that we honestly felt like our heads were spinning. I kept lists because otherwise I would not have remembered to do anything I needed to do. My time at work became my respite because I really enjoyed it and it was something for me, not for anyone else. There was no time or money for manicures, or the gym. My “me” time was a walk on the boardwalk, which I did as often as I could.
During this time of running from place to place, my house began to suffer. I was so filled with what I had to do outside of the home, that I ran from room to room, getting distracted and leaving tasks half finished everywhere. It was not until my youngest went on to high school that I would learn what was happening with me. When she was diagnosed with ADD and anxiety, I was as well. I asked the doctor if I could take the tests too. As I listened to what was going on with her, I heard my life being described. My childhood, my adolescence, and now, adulthood.
We continued to run around until the pandemic this past year shut us down. For me, it was welcome relief. My brain started to rewire itself. I had and still have all of the anxiety that many others have through this worldwide ordeal, but I have worked to look inside my mind and take some time to breathe.
When too much is thrown at me at once. I stop. I step aside and try to make a mental and sometimes physical list of what needs to get accomplished first, then next. Whenever I get distracted, I force myself to be mindful and return to the original task. I say no when I feel overwhelmed by someone else’s request. I no longer offer explanations. I simply say, no, I’m sorry, I cannot do that. I do not allow myself to feel guilty.
I know my limitations. I do not let myself feel bad about them. I feel overwhelmed almost everyday. But I work through it the best that I can.
“At the end of the day, remind yourself that you did the best you could today, and that is good enough.”
― Lori Deschene