How does a person make it through 23 years of life with undiagnosed, untreated ADHD?
Two words: Coping Mechanisms
For those who are suffering symptoms of ADHD or MommyADD (not long before the medical professionals discover that is a REAL disorder!), here are a few of my tips and tricks:
When in the shower, always always always follow the same routine. That way, you can chant the routine to yourself, and you won't forget to rinse the conditioner out of your hair.
My shower chant goes like this:
Shave your pits, woman!
After I've completed a task - I re-chant (usually in my head) so I make sure I didn't miss a step. I have showered with a mental chant since the fourth grade. When I forget to chant, I inevitably have to get back in the shower to shave my other armpit or rinse the facewash off my face.
When a kid leaves a light on in the back seat of the car, and you don't want a dead battery the next day, but you can't reach the light RIGHTTHEN because you are driving - turn on your own overhead light. Then, when you go to get out of the car, you'll think "Hmmm.... That's odd. I never leave my light on." When you reach up to turn it off, you'll ask yourself if there could be any other lights on in the car. You may or may not remember setting yourself up. But, it is a pretty safe bet both lights will get turned off.
If you're like me, you often find yourself so deep in a project that you forget to pay attention to your own bodily needs. For your eating needs, always keep a child handy. The beauty of a child's appetite is that it is demanding and regular. To remember to eat, use your child's mood as your mealtime planner.
Huffing = prepare a snack
Whining = prepare a meal
Stomping, kicking, and breaking things = order pizza, STAT!
When holidays and birthdays roll around, you are better off not buying gifts earlier than one week before the event. If you do choose to buy gifts earlier, be prepared to leave notes around the house to guide you to where you hid the gifts and a clue as to what the gifts might be. Otherwise, you could either lose the gifts or buy a duplicate gift when it is severely discounted... thus, having two wooden vanity playsets. True story.
As a plus side to this wildly humorous negative symptom - if you would like to have surprise gifts for Christmas, but your husband is a terrible shopper - you can buy all your favorite things in early November and wrap them up right away. Come Christmas morning, you may have a vague recollection of wanting the items at some point in time. Surprise!
When you need to be on time to an appointment - set your smart phone's agenda app with the time of the appointment to reflect 30 minutes before the appointment. You'll forget you tricked yourself (even though you do it every.single.time.) and arrive huffing, puffing and out of air three minutes before your actual appointment. You're on time, baby. Works like a charm.
When your child is in part-time preschool, and you are responsible for collecting her in the middle of the day, set three alarms to ensure you are not the last mom to arrive or worse - your phone rings with the school staff wondering if you were planning to inconspicuously reduce your family size by one kid.
The first alarm reminds you that your child will need to be picked up soon - like in an hour.
The second alarm reminds you that you need to dress your younger child and give her the mandatory two minute warning - more like twenty minutes.
The third alarm reminds you that you need to log out of Facebook and get.in.the.van.NOW! because this is your last warning and you are now late. (This actually still allows four minutes to drive to the school, but you tell yourself you're late so you won't look at any.thing.else on the way to the van. Distraction time is not factored into this equation.)
When your husband asks you where you put the Vick's Vaporub - you calmly reply "Medicine cabinet, top shelf, behind the first aid kit, in a brown basket, next to the thermometers and cough drops." When your husband asks you if you happened to pick up a box of cookies - you look remorseful and say you'll be sure to get them next trip to the store. Then you wipe the cookie-eating grin off your face because one of these days he is going to catch on that you're not ALWAYS forgetful.
And that folks, is how you DEAL with ADHD.
Still loving Adderall!
My Adderall perk today was that I was having a conversation with a friend and opened a metal door and slammed a small child in the head. She fell to the ground. THIS is not the perk. That was awful and I still feel terrible about it. But, after things calmed down, I looked right in my friend's eye and repeated the last sentence she had said. :O We picked up the conversation - with no "what were we talking about?" queries. I'm just... astounded.
When I went in for my psych evaluation four years ago, the psychiatrist began the interview with this statement: I'm going to say three words. I want you to remember these three words. Ball. Carrot. Blue.
Not five minutes into the evaluation, he asked me what three words I was supposed to remember. My reply? I think you said apple... because apples are round. And there was a rabbit in there somewhere.... I'm sorry. I don't remember the third word.
PS - Because my Adderall wore off long before I began composing this post, I had to go ask the hubby to repeat a few of these ideas I'd tossed around with him when checking to see if he could remember any of my other coping mechanisms. I FORGOT my coping mechanisms. (Can't.stop.laughing. MUST.breathe....)