Monday, September 26, 2016

ADHD: Living Your Life Backwards

Kitchen Timer - Sometimes Old School Is Best

I live my life backwards.

I don’t wake up refreshed; I wake up exhausted. There could be many reasons to explain this, from sleep apnea to mischievous imps poking me throughout the night. It might also be stress from my hectic family life at the moment. Alright, it’s probably stress, but I prefer to believe in mischievous imps. That’s a far more exciting explanation than the horrid mundanity that is my life.

The big problem with poor sleep is that I spend my day slowly ramping up until I am working at all cylinders by the end of the day, rushing around getting things done before it’s bedtime. I would love to pop out of bed in the morning like freshly toasted bread. I remember when waking up used to be like that. Now, instead, I read news in the morning. I check social media. I see what’s happening in the world. I get caught up with the latest political furor. I suppose it’s easy. It wakes up my mind.

But it’s a trap.

Starting my morning with something rife with distractions is incredibly foolish considering what a news junkie I am. Why news? Adults with ADHD have an intolerance for boredom. Reading news is one way to medicate that boredom. It provides new experiences in tiny shots. Think of all the bursts of endorphins as each news article stimulates my mind. “Trump said what?!” “Clinton can’t possible think we’ll believe that!” The American presidential election this year has been crack cocaine for my addled mind.

The problem is that my solution to kickstarting my brain each day has become a poor habit that eats up time because I don’t begin with the end in mind. I just read until I’ve had my fill. The solution to that isn’t just cutting back on news, or removing it altogether. Other activities can replace it as my morning addiction of choice. Even reading scriptures can be a problem, albeit a more edifying one, when I get distracted cross-referencing spiritual concepts through the four gospels, then discovering a talk by a general authority I haven’t encountered before. Learning new things isn’t a detriment. Adults with ADHD have a penchant for amassing information. We take it all in like hungry encyclopedias desperate for content. But what does it profit us to learn information at the cost of producing content? There needs to be balance.

We Need to Regulate How We Spend Our Time

I should get up, get busy, get done, then relax with all that delightful reading at the end of my day.

I know this. I’ve been here before. That’s why I know that the best way to regulate time is to use a timer. This morning I gave myself forty-five minutes to read news. I chose to read gaming and entertainment news only. There will be plenty of time for politics after tonight’s debate. I shared some posts on social media. I had a few laughs. I got my brain going. Then I got ready for the day, ate breakfast, and began blogging. I’m even aware of how little time I have before my daughter gets home off the bus. If you think a news addiction is disruptive to productivity, you should let a learning disabled kid with epilepsy and behavior issues plop into the middle of your day. No wonder I’m not getting anything done!

Why Do We Slip Back into Bad Behavior?

The reasons why we relapse are complicated and personal. I can’t speak well for others, but I’m going through an incredible period of unrest and turmoil in my life. I just moved everything I own into two storage units, I’m in between apartments, I have several financial fires that need stomping out, I’ve got various medical issues that take up time, and my daughter is a handful. I’m not in a happy place; there’s so much chaos. My solution, without realizing it, was to lose myself in distraction. It can be a comforting place to be. Online conversations can be intense and filled with the illusion of purpose. We can feel like VERY IMPORTANT THINGS ARE HAPPENING when all we’re doing is pushing hot air at each other. It’s not necessarily an ADHD problem, but adults with ADHD are prone to excessive levels. The only thing we can do in those situations is to self-analyze our behavior, then commit to new behaviors.

Fortunately for me, I’ve only lost a few weeks to this news binge. This is easily corrected. I do this periodically as my nature is to slip into this rut. So take a moment to pause. How have you spent your downtime? Are you letting distractions regulate your life? It doesn’t have to be this way. Use a timer on your phone, tablet, computer, or watch. Use a old school kitchen timer if you have to. Rein yourself in and reclaim your day. Live your life in the right order for a change.


My life might be a mess, but you won't believe how organized my book is.