A little more than four years ago, I decided to share a piece of my story publicly for Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) #nowimstronger campaign. (https://cmha.calgary.ab.ca/day-39finding-meaning-in-my-story-nowimstronger/).
Time sure flies! In that time, I’ve continued to build self-compassion and try to nurture self-care as a mindset – not as a set of activities or ‘doing’ but a ‘being.’ I’m not always successful. I still overextend myself; I still say yes when I mean no, I don’t always connect with others when I know I should.
The last four years have also brought more clarity about my brain! I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t frequently caught in an anxiety – panic- shame cycle when it came to completing tasks/staying on task etc. However, the more I learned about ADHD in women and speaking with my doctor, the more it seemed to fit. It felt validating that I wasn’t just lazy. In fact, no one outside of my own head would ever call me lazy because from the outside it usually looked like I was managing a million things on my plate – things always got done – but no one was aware of the chaos inside my head!
It’s not perfect, but I continue to use strategies that work for me to keep organized, keep the overwhelm at bay and complete everything that needs to be done! Perhaps some of these tips may be useful for you.
I use the 2-minute rule. I’ve written about this before, but If it can be done in 2 minutes, I do it! This has helped with the cleanliness of my house, doing tasks and generally helping prevent a pile up of work/tasks/duties. This helps me not just walk by the pile of clothes on the floor, put the dirty dish in the dishwasher, file that paper, pay that bill etc. This continues to help me with my overall goal of procrastination.
Learn to quiet perfectionism. I’d get caught in a loop in wanting everything to be perfect, then panicking when deadlines were near, then freezing and doing nothing and then madly finishing it by the due the date. Let go of perfectionism. Sometimes we can be successful with mindful reflection, and other times we may need additional tools. If this is a real struggle, we can also help you with strategies.
Use calendars and lists, but don’t get too caught up in the pre-planning of planning. What do I mean by this? This is the buying of planners, stickers, fun pens, fancy apps that we think will be the answer to our organizing, but then we never end up using them! The simplest is often best – just start. While the fun materials don’t hurt, they often are a way to keep us procrastinating (e.g., I can’t start my plan till I have all the colors of pens etc).
Of course, I’m going to say this – get sleep, eat healthy and move your body. Lack of sleep can especially aggravate and make ADHD challenges worse.
Don’t pathologize yourself. It’s a different wiring. ADHD is not a disease. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s different wiring in the brain and there will strengths and weaknesses. However, for girls, teen girls and women, ADHD often goes misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Women with ADHD often internalize the inability to meet societal expectations (eg., being the planner, keeping the family organized etc) and may experience shame, anxiety or depressive symptoms around their struggles. Sari Solden, who wrote, “Women and Attention Deficit Disorder” says, “For a long time, these girls see their trouble prioritizing, organizing, coordinating, and paying attention as character flaws. No one told them it’s neurobiological.”
If you have struggled with managing ADHD or think you may have ADHD, consider talking to your doctor. If you are looking for strategies and support, we are here to talk.
Kelly, K., & Ramundo, P. ( 2006). You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!
Solden, Sari. (2012). Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life
How To ADHD – You Tube Channel