Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living with ADHD

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Adult ADHD (inattention variety).  My inability to focus at home, procrastinate with work projects, keep my house and office tidy and being late for appointments was causing strain in my marriage and accounts for years of stress eating and inconsistent exercise.  It was important for me to get to the bottom of it and come up with a plan.

My therapist found me to be a unique case because I had off the charts Inattention symptoms but I thrived academically.  Normally people with ADHD, including adults, don't do well with academic work. But I had a doctorate by the time I was diagnosed so my therapist probed further to find out what was my coping strategies.  When I explained how I went about doing my research, he concluded that I was adept at "hyper-focusing" where I could shut out distractions and get my work done when I knew I was accountable to someone else (i.e. a professor).  This realization meant that I could possibly tackle my symptoms without medication (which could have potentially altered my personality, energy levels, etc) by developing strategies that created order in my life.

At home, I created places were I would always place my keys, an area to stack the monthly bills, designated a day to do laundry and a day to clean the house.  My home life and relationship with my husband improved greatly.  My husband also purchased a dry-erase calendar for me so I could write out important dates and appointments.  I still misplace things but not nearly as much as I used to.

The greater challenge has been at work.  I'm a college professor and my routine changes every 16 weeks. Usually the first 2 weeks of the semester are chaotic with new courses, students, and changing obligations. The last week of the semester is nutty as well as I'm usually trying to get my grading done and tie up any loose ends.  Add to this my research, obligations and you'll see how having ADHD is no picnic for a college professor.  In fact, I'd say that I need alot of work on developing a routine for my work environment. 

I don't want ADHD to be a crutch.  Sometimes, I'm just lazy and I need to own that.  Hence the reason, I opted for cognitive therapy as opposed to medication.  Some days are harder than others but I firmly believe that if I keep at it, I'll eventually develop a solid routine that will help me get my work done and alleviate a good majority of stress in my life. 

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