An attempt at brevity…

December 9, 2011

Morning,

So. Without further ado, I’m going to finish telling you what I started to tell you yesterday about SuperCoach Bev (SCB) and my day of productivity on Wednesday.

It all began at 11am on Wednesday morning when SCB called and we spoke a bit about my difficulties with procrastination etc and why I didn’t have much faith in my ability to implement organisational strategies after years of obsessing over to-do-lists and timetables that I’ve never managed to stick to. Indeed, I think this is an experience to which many ADHDers can relate and so needs no further explanation. Because my posts tend to be quite text-heavy (and recent feedback suggests I might want to think about y’know, brevity), I am going to use a visual aid from the good people at xkcd.com (sorry about this, you have probably lost several hours since clicking on this link) to explain this phenomenon to the non-ADHers among you:

So yes, you see my problem. Anyway, SCB has come up with some crafty ideas to prevent this from happening and I’m going to be open-minded and give them a go. On Wednesday though, the conversation went like this:

SCB: What do you need to do today?

Me: Take my duvet to the dry cleaners because my cat pissed on it again, write a report on my student whose dissertation I am (laughably enough) supervising, and finish my PhD.

SCB: That might not be a realistic to-do-list. Let’s focus on the first two. It’s better to achieve those two things than not achieve anything because you’ve set an unrealistic goal.

Me: Good point. How do I achieve the first two things?

SCB: You half half an hr to get dressed and get out of the house, one hour to get back from the dry cleaners, and then you need to split up the work into 15-30 minute sessions with breaks in between. I will be phoning and texting at regular intervals to make sure you’re on track.

And she did! And I did it! It was an amazing brilliant feeling. I’m not sure whether it was the encouragement, the close supervision, or my need to please that made this work for me but I’m not questioning it. With the exception of two small kitchen fires, it was a really good day and I feel better.

My next step is to go back on the meds (I’ve actually been meaning to write a post about this since October). This is going to be a long step (more a lighthouse-like flight of stairs really)  consisting of many hundred gabillion steps which are as of yet unknowable but I am feeling hopeful, determined, motivated… It’s very unusual.

Anyway, yesterday I forgot it was Thursday (clearly not cured yet) so here’s my belated weekly Haiku for ADHD:

 

 

I love your blue coat—

Sorry, what were we saying?

I don’t remember.

 

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Good morning, Internet.

It’s a chilly autumnal morning here in Wonderland. I have had an uncharacteristic (and entirely involuntary) early start to the day, having been woken up by the postman who delivered my Halloween costume. I forgot to take off my make-up last night and had been in a very deep sleep so the poor guy could be forgiven for his barely concealed surprise when his knock was answered by a creature for whom the donning of a scary Halloween costume could only represent an improvement. A creature who resembled this chap:

Anyway, I digress. After a shaky start, I am determined to remain on-topic today without hesitation, repetition or deviation. I need to talk to you about my decision to go back on the Ritalin before the rapidly loosening ball of wool that is my life unravels completely. I’m feeling completely incapable of getting things done and it’s always the PhD and my blood pressure that suffers most.

For example: I have so much to do today, and I am desperately trying not to panic. I am having people over to the flat tonight for a halloween gathering. Ideally, my itinary for the day would go something like this:

1) Blog about my ADHD meds (or lack thereof).
2) Despite lack of said meds, nevertheless, produce 3 or 4 hours of quality writing towards my PhD, thus sedating the little monster of PhD anxiety so that he has a good long nap.

3) Clean flat from top to bottom without breaking off at any point to explore the Internet or check that the dietary needs of chinchillas have not changed since the last time I conducted this research. Pay particular attention to the removal of cat fur from surfaces that guests are likely to want to sit on.

3.i) Decorate flat with cheap Halloween tat purchased from poundshop.

3.ii) Do so without sustaining injury from climbing on furniture.

3.iii) Dispose of all packaging and rubbish associated with cheap tat. Do not
leave on living room floor.

4) Go to Sainsburys and purchase food, alcohol and suitably proportioned pumpkin.

5) Carve pumpkin (may require sudden and spontaneous increase of artistic ability)

5.i) Do so without sustaining injury from big sharp knife.

5.ii) Should injury occur, at least have presence of mind to collect blood into
suitable container for incorpration into Halloween costume.

6) Shower, apply scary make-up to face, put on scary costume and wig.

7) Admit guests to flat without any indication of preparation hell. Probs attempt smile if poss but if not, pass lack of smile off as costume-appropriate expression.

8)  Drink Halloween punch until I pass out and care not that my flat enjoyed approx 1 hr of tidiness before being littered with the debris of celebration and intoxication, debris that I will inevitably be too hungover to dispose of.

Oh crap. How is that the time?? Despite the carefully delineated 8 point plan above, I am going to have to jettison Step 1 and postpone my post on ADHD meds. Again. FFS.

Good day to you, Internet.

Today is the penultimate day of my current contract at work.  I then have nearly two weeks to make some significant progress on the PhD, undistracted (HA!), before I return to the same place (but a different department) in order to begin a new contract. In honour of my last day in this office, tomorrow I am going to make a concerted effort to arrive on time less than an hour late. I am making this promise here and now, in writing. Because, clearly, if I tell the Internet something that makes it true.

I am so fed up of having to call in to work at 9.05 and explain, in my sleep-hoarse voice that I have overslept (again), and then make a promise to be in by 9.30 even though I know that it takes at least 30mins to get ready and at least 20 minutes to actually make it from my flat to my place of employment. Add at least 15 minutes to account for ADHD, and it is clear to anyone with only a rudimentary grasp of mathematics, that it will be AT LEAST 10am before I make it to work, overheated, overstressed, and dangerously under-caffeinated. Why do I do this??! Why is being late for work once not enough? Why engineer the situation so that I am compounding the original lateness, by further tardiness so that I have to feel humiliated by my own inadequacies not just once but twice?

The thing is, they’re kind of used to it here. It’s not that the chronic lateness goes unnoticed but it’s tolerated. It helps that I seem to have accidentally cultivated this image of myself as a sort of lovable scatter-brain.  I think it might be an ADHD survival strategy that enables one to get through life being a bit crap but without incurring the same penalties as other people might. I think I’ve inherited it from my father who is anything but lazy but whose working days were a scramble of missed meetings, forgotten deadlines, and lost paperwork. Strangely, he was always well-liked despite these short-comings, and I am fairly sure that he retained the affection of his colleagues by the same means as I do now: 1) Apologise profusely, even when things aren’t your fault. 2) Be more cross at yourself than your colleague is – this results in their irritation metamorphosing into sympathy before your very eyes. 3)  Seem a little bit helpless. Instead of wanting to kick you in the face, they want to help you.  4) Cultivate an attitude of self-deprecation which encourages others to laugh affectionately at your difficulties and roll their eyes with a smile instead of a final written warning.

As I write the above, I realise that this sounds very manipulative and a little exploitative, as though I purposely deploy these tactics of defence. This is absolutely not the case. It is a defence mechanism in the same way that a squid releases ink in response to attack. It’s the ADHD equivalent. In the face of attack by completely normal, everyday challenges, it’s me rolling myself up into a little ball with my arms wrapped protectively over my head, shrieking ‘I’m not very good at this, it shouldn’t be this difficult, but rather than you take my shortcomings too seriously, I’d rather you just took me less seriously. I am therefore prepared to relinquish some of my pride and dignity in return for your forgiveness and tolerance’.  I don’t want to be seen like this. I would quite like to feel that people took me seriously. I would quite like to feel that people looked at me and thought, ‘there goes a capable twenty-something woman who is going places’ rather than ‘ Awww, how typical – Rose has fucked up again, bless her. How *does* she make it through each day without close supervision?’  Sometimes I feel like I am a joke of my own devising.

But when I move departments, I would really like to try to minimize the extent to which my crapness is immediately obvious to my colleagues. I want to start a clean sheet, a new leaf, and other paper-related metaphors for a fresh start. And this brings me to the thing that I was actually going to blog about today but which might need to wait until tomorrow now because I am running out of working hours in which to do some actual, y’know, work etc: Namely, I have decided that coming off the Ritalin was probs the worst decision I never actually made (I lost my repeat prescription and was too embarrassed to admit to it.  And as an(other) aside, by the way, the staff at the GP surgery are definitely not as susceptible to the whole lovable scatterbrain thing as my employers seemingly are). So that whole post is now going to have to wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, when hopefully I will be able to report that my punctuality has (at least temporarily) improved.

Until then, Internet, I bid thee farewell.

 

 

 

[…] to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. […] But for women, I thought, looking at the empty shelves, these difficulties were infinitely more formidable […][1]

And for a woman with ADHD….? Well, I don’t know about a work of genius. I’d just settle for getting this chapter of the PhD written and handed to my supervisor but here’s some things I’m going to add to the great VW’s list of distractions…

Facebook – Love it or hate it (personally, I bloody hate it) those email notifications make producing any completed work (even of distinctly dubious quality) fairly unlikely. Do you think that spending hours untagging yourself from dodgy photographic likenesses counts as extenuating circumstances?

Emails – Again, probably not something old ViWo had to contend with. Letters don’t count for her because they ended up being pored over by scholars and therefore contribute towards her already formidable corpus. Alright for some, eh?

Cats – Miaow when they want in, miaow when they want out. The warmest place to sit is the laptop keyboard except when you’re looking for that quote you can’t find, because then they’d much prefer to snooze on page 324-5.

Sharpening pencils – Or its modern day equivalent, devising a new electronic filing system for one’s pdfs.

Blackberry – Is the plural of Blackberry, still Blackberries? Even when we’re referring to the brand name? In any case, you wouldn’t catch Virginia in the drawing room IM-ing Leonard in his study  because she couldn’t be arsed to walk downstairs. No, she’d just send one of the staff. Unfortunately, my staff aren’t as compliant – they’re too busy miaowing outside the living room door and vomiting hairballs onto freshly laundered clothes.

Wikipedia – If my supervisor, advisor, or examiner is reading this then let me add the disclaimer that I do not ever resort to, will not ever resort to, and do not ever condone, usage of the people’s encyclopaedia of  everthingness. Nuh-uh. Not me. Still…all that restraint is bloody distracting, no?

Having A Room of One’s Own – A Room + Sole Possession (and therefore sole responsibility for domestic maintenance of said room) + ADHD + Impending Essay Deadline = Inevitable Temptation to Clean Vs Inevitable Conversion of Remaining Order to Total Chaos. This is known in ADHD circles as The Law of Terminal Procrastination. Guess Woolf never saw the potential irony of this one in her original thesis.

I will be adding to this list from time to time in the name of procrastination therapeutic discussion. What have I missed? Add your own entries in the comments…


[1] Woolf, V. (1929) 1998. A Room Of One’s Own and Three Guineas, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 66-7.