Regardless of where we are in life and the challenges we face due to whatever obstacles are getting in our way there is a necessity to take care of ourselves. Even small children start caring for themselves in small ways and become more independent, proud, and confident in whatever life pursuits they may encounter.
For too many, growing up starts to get a little restrictive, and we wind up making choices between what we need to do and what is actually good for us.
The hyperfocus part of my ADHD has helped me do many things in my life. It’s helped me finish books in a day or two. I’ve stayed vigilant on diet and exercise programs and lost large amounts of weight. I have made plans to get many articles done in a day or clean large areas of my home.
Sometimes, I even manage to execute some of my plans. Sometimes making the plans wears me out, and it takes me a bit to move forward. The downside of lending so much focus to one thing is that you end up living life like a one trick pony that looks a lot like “A horse of a different color” from The Wizard of Oz.”
You do one thing well for a while and the other stuff slips. Eventually you notice one of those “other” things has slipped so much that you have to pick it up and fix it. So you focus on that, meanwhile the other thing you’d been working on goes to pot. You beat yourself up chasing your own failures and mistakes. Pick up one ball. Drop another. Round and round it goes.
What Depression Taught Me
For a long time I have been sad a lot. I’ve felt both depression and the Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria that goes along with my ADHD. RSD is episodic, I have found. Some small thing can be a trigger. It might be something someone else says that most will take in stride, but for you it makes you cry or go into a rage for hours or in some cases days. It can be a dropped glass. Anything. It is a horrible situation for you. It is not exactly nice for those around you either. The episodes are largely irrational, but they pass. The sun rises again.
Depression is a weighted chill that you wear like a fat suit with the zipper stuck. Your whole life is pressed down and in slow motion. Getting out of bed can take the amount of energy comparable to running a 5K and won’t bring any kind of runner’s high with it. It hurts your heart. It hurts your soul. It digs into your bones like a blanket of ache. And you have no idea when or if you will ever feel better again.
It is here when something’s gotta give. You find someone or something or both that helps you start putting one foot in front of another again. Something that loosens the zipper of the frozen fat suit. There’s no cure. You’re still cold. Even if your heart feels a little lighter, you carry that phantom with you, and it whispers. You can ignore it and it will pick the most inopportune time to rebel. Or you can try to honor it. Listen.
Starting With Balance on Purpose
Balance is not something that comes naturally to me. I have to work at it. It has to be a conscious effort. I need to give it a level of hyperfocus priority. Various events and situations in my life have brought on crisis mode, or at least a sort of pre-crisis mode. It is now a time of do or die. I can no longer afford to curl up like a pill bug.
I need to make positive steps across different areas of my life. I need to work more, more efficiently, more consistently, and more profitably. Years ago I would have told myself this is my top priority and thrown everything else by the wayside to make that happen, and I would have just turned into a big fat pill bug. Professional care is important, but so is self care. Incorporating more exercise and better nutrition. Taking time for household chores. I am walking into this draft of my life knowing myself a bit better. Knowing that if I giving something effort for 10 minutes, or 20, or an hour is what I have in me, to honor that reality. When I switch from one area of care, I make an effort to go to something else important. I step in for as long as I can, as long as I am effective and efficient in one area, and I step back. The time will come when my “pushing through” switch is activated. For some, one thing at a time is a necessity, and I totally respect that. But that is not me. It is time to stop trying to make it me.
Practicing Daily Affirmations
I have created a modified daily planner of sorts. It works on any calendar or notebook. It reminds me to be kind and forgiving to myself on all my ventures. It allows me to give myself credit and rewards for moving forward and to stop punishing myself all along the road to the finish line. It brings a dose of positivity and a celebration of my own existence. It’s like that quote, “Every day is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.” Here’s my daily Q&A
- Good Morning, Gretchen. Today is a new and glorious day. How will you honor and celebrate yourself today? ( Pick an act of self care to make a priority)
- What promises have you made to yourself, and others for today? (must do)
- What else would you like to do? (realistically)
- How will you structure this day to make it as positive as possible? ( I might pair or group tasks in order to assure that different types of priorities are included)
- Congratulations, you’ve done your best. You deserve a rest. (Decide when the bulk of your day is ended, and give yourself a proper chance to recharge. Forgive yourself for whatever was missed.)
A lot of people would probably look at my loose “schedule” and say that it is too easy. Not long ago I probably would have said the same thing, and sometime in the future I will probably say it again. The thing is, being hard on myself really hasn’t served me well. For now I do what I can, inch forward. Tomorrow is a new day.