ADHD: Grieving for the person I wish I was

from The Rosie Project:

“ ‘Is Gene all right?’ [Julie] asked. It was obviously a variant on that most common of formulaic interaction, ‘How are you?’

“ ‘He’s fine, thank you,’ I said, adapting the conventional reply to the third-person form.

“ ‘Oh. I thought he was ill.’

“ ‘Gene is in excellent health except for being six kilograms overweight. We went for a run this morning. He has a date tonight, and wouldn’t be able to go out if he was ill.’

“Julie seemed unimpressed, and in reviewing the interaction later, I realized that Gene must have lied to her about his reason for not being present. This was presumably to protect Julie from feeling that her lecture was unimportant to Gene and to provide a justification for a less prestigious speaker being sent as a substitute. It seems hardly possible to analyze such a complex situation involving deceit and supposition of another person’s emotional response, and then prepare your own plausible lie, all while someone is waiting for you to reply to a question. Yet that is exactly what people expect you to be able to do.”

(The Rosie Project, p. 8)

Adapting those last lines to my life would read thus: It hardly seems possible to keep track of and complete in a timely, consistent manner all that needs to be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Yet that is exactly what people expect you to do.

Less than a year ago I was diagnosed with ADHD. In seeking medical advise from a psychiatrist, it was discovered that I was still suffering from mild depression in spite of the fact that I am taking two anti-depressants, which have greatly improved my mental disposition and quality of life. I now also take Deplin, a form of folic acid formulated to cross the blood-brain barrier. The depression appears to be in remission. My psychiatrist at that time (he’s since closed his private practice) thought it possible that the ADHD might not need to be treated with medication once the depression was fully treated. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case for me.

Treating the ADHD in any form got put on hold while Todd and I took the children traveling all summer and put further on hold while my doctor and I attempted to wean me off of one of the two anti-depressant medications. Long story short: the weaning was horrible, but I’m now taking half the previous dose of both medications. I am currently doing well regarding depression.

In October, I started working with a different psychiatrist. He has helped me to start thinking in terms of reasonable goals for myself. I have trouble getting current on the basic chores of a life well-lived. My problem areas:

  • Papers
  • Finances
  • Laundry

Usually I can stay fairly on top of the laundry, but it’s been a problem for many weeks now. Finances are an ongoing, recurring problem. The really big problem is paper; this is the one area of my life which I have never felt fully the master of. Many forms of paper contribute: business mail, personal correspondence, children’s artwork, children’s schoolwork, sermon notes.

This weekend, I am away from home for a Women’s Crafting Retreat. Downstairs women are set up at tables with scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, and perhaps a few other types. My craft is writing. I had planned to accomplish some research for my Work in Progress: Hartfield. However, first thing this morning my conscience was pricked with the fact that I had left my husband with several messes at home, which I have overlooked for weeks.

There’s the paper mess as already outlined. It is usually contained to one counter, but has occupied two for several weeks. I did make some barely visible progress on Wednesday.

I’ve made quite a bit of progress on finances lately. However, I have a library fine that I’ve ignored for several months and a speeding ticket is overdue to be paid.

My husband earns all the dollars in our current household economy. When we both earned money, we both cooked and cleaned. Now that he’s earning all the money, the lion’s share of the household management falls to me. One of my tasks is to keep the finance and budget program up to date, but it hasn’t been current for most of the past year. Not knowing where we are at with the income and outflow adds a significant amount of stress to Todd’s life. So he works long, hard hours to make sure we stay afloat financially. But in spite of that stress and focus, and because my husband is such an excellent man, we all sit down together to breakfast and dinner almost every day of the week. And he spends time interacting with the children. Me, I’m the introvert in the corner reading and writing.

The big problem at the moment is the laundry. Without going into details that you really don’t want to read about, but that moms everywhere can guess at, there’s a bucket of laundry that has been soaking in my bathroom for many weeks—probably close to a month! It’s so full and has sat for so long that there are more clothes on top that need to be soaked and laundered. Because it has sat for so long, it’s beyond the “soaking” phase and onto the “ultra-nasty science projects in here” phase. Since I have avoided opening the bucket for a few weeks, I don’t know how bad it is.

So… this morning while I am away at a Women’s Retreat, my family at home were getting ready to go skiing. My husband looked high and low for thermal pants for our son: in the dryer, in the laundry basket, in every hamper. No thermal pants found for David.

My husband opened the bucket.

He decided to go to a retail shop and pay full price for a pair of thermal pants so that they could all go skiing today.


Just before I left the house on Friday, I used the last of the dishwasher detergent. After becoming aware of the nastiness I had left for my husband to find, my electronic calendar reminded me of an engagement the kids where scheduled for this morning, but won’t be at. I neglected to inform the people expecting them. I can only hope my husband remembered.

So I stink at remembering and accomplishing basic tasks of life in a timely, consistent manner. The costs have been monetary. The unpaid speeding ticket is due to being in a hurry. I was in a hurry because I hadn’t managed my time well. The unpaid library fine is because library books get lost in the clutter. Today, the cost is for a pair of thermal pants. The costs of ADHD aren’t only monetary; it has cost us time and peace as well. All this clutter, mess, and costs mentally hamstring me from fully doing what I truly want to do: study and write.

The past few weeks, I developed a check list in my weekly planner. Having this visual reminder has helped me to make some improvements in all the basic areas.

Weekly Task Checklist
Weekly Task Checklist

Having this task list has helped me improve in accomplishing that which must be accomplished. Our finances and basic budget have been worked on because of it. I finally touched the papers and clutter on the counters because of it. I even got caught up on the laundry in the hampers. But I haven’t been at it long enough to tackle that nasty bucket when no one was around to smell the stench. I haven’t been at it long enough to clean up all the messes in my life.

ADHD hasn’t simply affected me so that that I live a different life. It has detrimentally affected our lives. How I currently live life is messy and costly. And I don’t want to feel good about being a slob. I want to quit being a slob.

I wonder if the Apostle Paul had ADHD:

“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Romans 7:18b ESV)

Perhaps the Pharisees had ADHD troubles as well:

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” —Jesus (Luke 11:42 ESV, emphasis added)

For I am not doing awful things, but I am doing some good things to excess while neglecting others.

I’m due to see my psychiatrist in four weeks. My plan: continue on with my task checklist and see what progress I make in that time. If I can’t develop systems that work for us, I want to investigate medication.