Anxiety… ADHD… Now What?
Something very strange happened to me this past weekend. I felt as if I could have a nervous breakdown at any moment. Although dealing with anxiety and the challenges that come along with ADHD is nothing new to me, the heightened levels freaked me the fuck out. I am not a doctor, so I am not able to pinpoint exactly what triggered my time of emotion and panic, but I think I can reverse engineer my thoughts to begin what I feel is a root cause analysis. Sorry for the nerdy lingo, it is the environment and verbiage I have come accustom to over the past decade-plus.
I would like to preface the “story” portion of this by relaying something I believe in my heart. Everyone has their issues. I am not a special flower who deserves a higher level of pity or attention, simply because I think I deserve it. The truth is, I don’t deserve anything in life over the person next to me, in front of me, or behind me. My reasoning for sharing is to do exactly that, share. Also, there is a possibility that someone dealing with anxiety and ADHD will find a nugget of help in my words. If not, it will make for some semi-interesting reading while sitting on the pot.
For as long as I can remember, ADHD has been a part of my life. It has affected me in many ways. The impact has always been larger in professional settings. School for me was pretty much a wash. I didn’t pay attention to a damn thing. I’m not sure if I brought a text book home my last 2 years of high school. Working at a “job” had similar challenges and still does to this day.
I pride myself of becoming so familiar with my craft and my social skills that I fall short in doing the small things. I hate filling out my time sheet. I hate completing reports. I hate red tape. I hate bureaucracy. For so long, I have been able to use my knowledge and my ability to read people and situations as the foundation for my success. This foundation has pushed me higher in the corporate world that I ever thought I could be. But then, something changed.
As I got deeper into my career, and started a family, my anxiety showed up in a way that was almost crippling. For years, I battled a very strong personal opinion that I was a terrible person and at any moment, my world would come crashing down. All of the things that I thought were part of my “charm” in business would cause me to have paralysis when dealing with tasks and people. I waited and in some ways wished to be fired for my short comings. I knew that if I could just prove to myself that I was terrible at everything I do, they would see it to. Then I would be released from my obligations.
But, then what? What the hell am I going to do then? Sit on the couch and play video games? Surf Reddit and pick my nose? No, I wouldn’t because I am not lazy. I am not unmotivated. I am not a bad person. I am a man who has been struggling with the issues that millions of people have to deal with on a daily basis.
So in the midst of my panic and with my wife talking me back to reality, I was able to ask myself a question. Now what? I felt more pressure on my chest than I had felt in a long time. I woke up this morning, still a bit exhausted from my self-ass-kicking I had delivered the night before, and I began to etch out a plan. Some of these things seem very easy and have all been robbed from many people and groups that motivate me. I would like to share these with everyone who takes the time to read this. Maybe it will help you. Hell, maybe it will help me. But, at the very least, it is a step in some direction.
Step 1: Spend the first 15–30 minutes of your day, planning your day. Not broad brush strokes of; I think I will clean the house, or I will run some errands, or I will finish this task. Very specific and timed plans for the day. I took this step today. I didn’t follow every second to a T, but pretty damn close. After I planned my day, I felt so much better. I had a path to clear my chaos.
Step 2: Take a moment to tell someone how you are feeling. It doesn’t have to be super formal. It can be as simple as being honest when someone says, “How are you today?”. I don’t have many people that I confide in to show my true feelings, fears, and vulnerabilities. And this doesn’t need to be a confessional -type of setting. Just put your energy out into the world and look for some positive impact to combat that feeling.
Step 3: If something doesn’t get completed, add it to your SCHEDULE, not another list. I didn’t get 2 items off my schedule completed today, but I blocked time tomorrow to handle them. This is important, especially when deadlines and impact to clients and co-workers are on the line.
Step 4: Try to remember what is important. Life can get messy and work can add to the mess. Today I came home and took my son to soccer practice. It was a complete cluster-f**k. It isn’t hard to imagine 10 4-year olds running in circles and trying to see who can pull the most grass out of the ground while ignoring “drills”. However, that hour was the best and most emotional part of my day. I didn’t think about anything other than how much I love my family. Tomorrow will be another day. I will do my best and that is all I can do. But what is important to me, is what happens in the 4 walls that I call home.
Step 5: Never stop trying to get better. Employee, husband, father, son, brother, friend. Work on these everyday. It isn’t easy. Life isn’t easy. Life can suck you dry if you let it. I won’t stop trying to get better. It may not always seem like it, but that is why it is called work. It’s hard. But then I am reminded of my question I asked last night. Now what?
Thanks for reading. If you or someone you know is battling ADHD, I would encourage you to check out The Drummer and The Great Mountain. It is full of stories and tactics to fight ADHD in everyday life.