Monday, April 28, 2008

Multi-Irons Syndrome Burns My Mind

In which I discover to my horror that ADHD affects me far more than I realized.

EpicBy virtue of writing a regular blog, many ADHD readers over the years have been in awe of my "mastery" over my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These readers obviously weren't regular readers. I am anything but a master of my ADHD. In fact, I am not so much a slave of ADHD as much as I am it's water boy and masseuse. That is why I'm interested in looking at ADHD anew this year using the techniques I utilize to manage my Depression.

Cheek? Check.
Humor? Well, at least *I* think I'm funny
Optimism? Ha!
Success? Not as much as I'd like.

There are a few constant areas where ADHD affects me profoundly. Tardiness is one (unless I am being conscientious). Switching tasks is another (unless I am hyperactive that day). Most of all, however, I struggle with Multi-Irons Syndrome. Haven't heard of it? Perhaps that's because I coined the term. Surely you've heard of somebody having too many irons in the fire? That person was downright practical compared to me.

I made a list of all that I try to do with my time as a full-time Dad on disability raising four daughters. I am both amazed and dismayed.

Let's start with the responsibilities. I cook dinners. I supervise homework. I do the laundry. I go shopping for supplies, and I drive my girls to their endless dance, drama, and music lessons during rush hour traffic (I will get my revenge one day).

Next, I have a long list of things I want to succeed at. I work as a booking agent for my oldest daughter when I'm not helping write music with her and producing her podcast. Then I try to manage the budget, help keep my family on target for their goals, and work on my career as a freelance graphic/web designer. Don't forget that I'm also writing children's books, and mastering the pennywhistle, fife, and chromatic harp. And I blog.

Never mind what I do to waste time like read news, write arcane Applescripts, read news, tweet, read news, create nifty avatars, explore socnets, metatag my iTunes library, research a multitude of obscure yet spiffy topics, get thoroughly distracted with my computers, and read news.

Is that a lot? Seems perfectly normal to me. No ADHD there. Nosiree. What is interesting to me is that even after listing all those items, I still feel bad because there are so many other things I feel I should be doing as well.

Honestly, is it any wonder I am frustrated with my lack of personal progress? Is it any wonder I'm depressed? What exactly do I expect myself to have progress with? Multiple Personality Disorder?

I've covered this topic before (priorities, projects, and being busy). I'm constantly filling my life up with projects, then working just as constantly at whittling them down. It's an endless cycle. What makes this particularly salient in regards to Depression is that while I'm being split in simultaneous directions in an effort to keep my mind entertained, I also expect myself to meet goals I've set out for myself. The problem with this is that one, there is only so much time in the day, and two, I can only complete goals when I'm focused - usually when focusing on one goal at a time. Unfortunately, I've got more goals than a box of MSL scorecards. When I don't achieve these goals I get down on myself. This invariably leads to Depression.


Because I'm only focusing on what I haven't accomplished, and I'm not focusing on what I want to accomplish.

This kind of depression is different from the chemically imbalanced variety I usually experience. This depression I can do something about. I've detailed in this blog many times before how focusing on the negative accelerates Depression. Unawares, I stopped taking my own advice. If I were to give myself advice in this situation today, I would encourage myself to simplify my life drastically.

First, I would recommend writing down what my most important goals are, then I would mercilessly terminate the other goals that took time away from the important ones. Lastly, I would advise sitting down with my family and discussing our insane weekly schedule. The topic of discussion would be the pros and cons of gutting our schedule like a fish at the cannery.

Project creep affects us all simply because it is easy and free to think of new things to do. Life also contributes as responsibilities tend to come at us like oncoming trucks. In the end, though, we need to ask ourselves "Are we busy doing the things we want to be doing? Or are we just busy?" Then we have to have the courage to drop the goals and projects that get in the way of what we really want to accomplish while on this Earth.

As I look over my list, I am faced with an uncomfortable truth. I am living with a functional dysfunction. If any one thing makes me miserable it is my Multi-Irons Syndrome. It isn't enough to simply prune my life this time as I have done countless times before. I must break the cycle. I can manage the tardiness by employing proven techniques and do better. I can switch tasks with proven techniques as well, but Multi-Irons Syndrome is derailing all my plans.

No worries, though. I can fix this.