Monday, December 03, 2018

ADHD: On Time, but Half an Hour Late

Sometimes you can do everything right and still get it all wrong.

Cheerful Reminder

It seems the only thing I can count on reliably is my ADHD tendency to embarrass myself. It’s even more reliable than death and taxes. I make plans. I execute them. Then they execute me.

My regular hairstylist is out on maternity leave, so I’ve been seeing a colleague of hers. She does a good job, and I am intensely thankful to get a professional cut on my schedule at the same location. She’s a nice girl and very courteous, too, which makes me want to return the favor by being on time.

You can probably guess where this is going.

Between ADHD, Tourette’s, and my daughter’s disabilities, many days I find myself 15–30 minutes behind schedule, racing across the valley to be as close to on time as possible, basically Douglas Standard Time. If you’re wondering why I’m so chronologically challenged, ADHD inspires last minute distractions that put me behind, Tourette’s is a neurological earthquake that goes off unexpectedly, and my daughter is a learning disabled teenager who does a great erupting volcano impression. Any of the three is enough to get me off track, but often I get the full hat trick.

This is why I had been making a concerted effort to not be late anymore to my appointments. Even if ADHD was at fault one day, or I began ticking and couldn’t drive, there is still a level of control that I have to manage the interruptions. In the case of the hairstylist, I prepared in advance. I was ready for the appointment long before I needed to leave. I planned no other errands to run. I had eaten a full meal, loaded with protein, an hour before I had to leave to prevent Tourette’s. I had even slept well. Being on time to my hair appointment was my main goal that afternoon. When the appointed time arrived, I was early, sitting in my spot eagerly awaiting my hirsute transformation.

You could have knocked me over with a hair clip when the stylist awkwardly informed me that my appointment had been scheduled thirty minutes earlier. I sat there stunned. Just moments before I had been congratulating myself for being punctual—maybe even a bit smugly. Oh, yes! I was the master of time, all right! Behold my timely splendor! Chronos himself stands in awe of my godlike punctuality!

How could this have happened‽ I was so careful. With my stylist standing there, I frantically checked my calendar. Yes, there it was. One o’clock. Not 12:30. Yet there I was, half an hour late. She sweetly asked me if I had received the reminder texts. Yes, yes! Of course! There they were. I often don’t pay much attention to them because they are redundant. I have everything written down in my calendar, but upon closer inspection, the reminder texts did indeed state my upcoming appointment was at 12:30. Although it’s possible the salon changed the time (since that’s happened before), I probably wrote it down wrong. Either way, I never verified the appointment time with the reminder. That made it solely my fault.

I left dejected and shaggy. I usually laugh off ADHD blunders because they are often jaw-dropping stupid in their scope, but this mistake hit me hard. Not only did I not get a great haircut, I embarrassed myself and inconvenienced her. It was my last appointment with her before my regular stylist returned. This was how the hairstylist was going to remember me.

I was depressed about it for days. When I realized I hadn’t paid her, as per their cancelation policy, I was mortified. My depression worsened.

What surprises me is that I’ve already learned this lesson before. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn it completely. I take the appointment reminder cards and verify my appointment entry when I get home. I remember to call to verify if I haven’t received a reminder call. But I never applied those coping strategies to text reminders, as if they are totally different because the reminder arrives on photons instead of paper. Clearly, I should have opened up the Calendar app and checked the date and time. As we said as children, “No duh…”

What I take away from this is that I shouldn’t trust myself to remember things. I got cocky. Life has shown me over and over again that the unexpected will always occur. It’s a hard lesson to relearn. Reminder cards and texts are there to help us not forget. There is no shame in double checking. In fact, it would be prudent to do so. In the future, that’s exactly what I’ll do—right after I drop by the salon and pay the stylist what I owe. It’s an expensive lesson that I hope I won’t be relearning anytime soon.