Posted on June 26, 2016
We have a little lake house in Canada where we spend many of our summer weekends. It’s small, quaint and comfortable, with a stellar view of Lake Huron. Over the years, we’ve kayaked, fished, lit fireworks, and have enjoyed many bomb fires. Not far is a large national park with gorgeous hiking paths. We look forward to our weekends up here, except for one thing:
We live next door to a hoarder.
We didn’t know it at the time we purchased our little wooden piece of paradise, because way back then, his front and back yards were fairly tidy. The man who lives there was kept in check because it was his parents’ summer home and he only came up on weekends. But once they passed away- his mother, about 8 years ago- he moved in full time and the property has become a dumping ground of every imaginable portable object. We’ve seen large boat carcasses anchored in his front yard- on land- his own private party boats.
Discarded truck beds, swing sets (he lives alone), huge tents (empty), stacks of wooden planks, orphaned windows and who knows what….greet us every time we pull up our drive.
I’m a psychotherapist. I know that this man has a psychiatric illness.
“The current DSM lists hoarding disorder as both a mental disability and a possible symptom for OCD.” (Wikipedia)
Why am I writing about this? Well, I’m at our lake house right now and this week, the view next door is about the worst we’ve seen in a long time. Yes, we have gently discussed the problem with our neighbor, and he has tried twice in 15 years to remove the eyesore. But within a month or so, it all returns. It’s just different “stuff.”
I have some choices in how to deal with this. I can drive up every weekend and feel the aggravation pumping through my veins. I can focus on the mess next to me instead of the beautiful view in front of me. I can call the city authorities and complain. I can continue to request that my neighbor clear out his yards.
Deep down, I know that none of these will work. So I’m going to do my best to ignore the mess and enjoy Lake Huron and the wide blue sky, instead.
You have choices, too.
I’m often asked: where do I start with this pile/mess/report/chore, etc? People with ADD often get completely overwhelmed with this and end up shutting down without even starting. Many times I hear women with ADD say there’s so much stuff, that they’d never get it all cleared away.
Like my neighbor the hoarder, we with ADD often feel that no matter how much we try, things will just reappear in days (or hours): paper, bills, toys, laundry. So why even try? Instead, we walk out of the room and take a nap. Or fall into a self-hating mode, which for some can lead into a spiraling depression.
The answer, in part, is to stop looking for perfection. If you expect your house, your desk, your pantry to look like everyone else’s, you’re in for total self-defeat.
What you want is to just start. Start with filing 10 pieces of paper sitting on your desk. Or make that phone call you’ve been avoiding. Or set up your children’s dental appointments. Just start.
And you just might surprise yourself that once you start; you’ll keep on going until the basket of clean clothes is put away.
Can you choose one chore you’ve been avoiding – right now- and work on it for 10 minutes? If you’re brave enough, I’d love to see what you’ve chosen to do, by posting it in the Comment section, below.
Remember, you can choose to close the door and pretend it’s not there, or you can jump in, take care of it, and enjoy the beautiful view in front of you. Just like my own view of Lake Huron.
Posted on June 12, 2016
I’m writing this while sitting in a hotel in NYC. By the time you read it, however, I should be back home and back to work.
Every year, I try and give myself a solo vacation for a few days where I can get away from it all and immerse myself in activities that I enjoy, leaving my many family and work responsibilities back home.
It’s a time to put myself first, something I don’t often do back home, because:
- Moms generally put their child’s needs first
- Women are told that our family is our first priority (we hear this message beginning in early childhood)
- Marriages mean giving and taking. And giving some more.
- I’m the queen of the sandwich generation, caring for a “child” with special needs (she’s now a young adult) as well as an elderly parent.
I crave these few days away where I can stay up as long as I wish and sleep in for as long as I want. There are no dogs jumping on me, waking me up. No slamming of kitchen cabinets. No phone calls. No requests for this or that. No interruptions. It’s like being 6 again and having the playground to myself.
What is my point?
We all need time away from responsibilities and routines. ADHD is with us 24/7 and it often makes normal daily routines much harder to manage. Our energy is often depleted by the end of the day, though our brains never seem to want to shut down!
It’s summer. If you have kids, you may have your hands full if they don’t have structured activities set up (CAMP!).
A solo vacation may not be in the equation for you, but getting down time is a MUST. I’m asking all of you: what can you do to find a day or two where you can feel freedom, enjoy activities you’ve had to put aside all year and find time just for you?
I often say that doing things we need to do to stay afloat is NOT a luxury. In that vein, what do you NEED to do for yourself and how will you do it?
Please share your thoughts (and hopefully your plans) in the Comment section below.
Posted on May 30, 2016
Sometimes I don’t know where my ADD starts and where it ends. I don’t know if my supersonic sensitivities are from ADD, Sensory Processing Disorder or both. Or whether they’re simply personal quirks of mine. But man, there are a lot of things that drive me absolutely crazy! Such as:
1. Songs that have too many repetitive verses, such as the end of Hey Jude, by the Beatles: Na Na Na NANA NA NA……(repeat 100 times). And mind you, I LOVE The Beatles.
2. People who talk to me from a different room. Sweetheart, if I can’t see your mouth or eyes or both, I cannot connect with you- my brain does an immediate shut down.
3. Touching a doorknob, cabinet pull, fridge door, etc., that is sticky or gooey. I did not handle this well when my children were young. And I still don’t. Thank God for Clorox wipes.
4. Related to #3, stepping on something sticky. As in…spilled juice. Then stepping on all the little juice trails.
5. Slow drivers, especially when I’m in the passenger seat of one (and you know who you are). I start chewing on my sleeve to try and stay calm.
6. Talking on the phone when the other person is on speakerphone. I cannot understand ¾ of what you are saying.
7. Talking on the phone (you saw that coming, didn’t you?).
8. The smell of bacon cooking early in the morning. I want to gag. Hey, not everyone loves bacon! Certainly not at 6am.
9. Restaurants that have TVs going plus songs piped in. If I want to watch TV or listen to music, I’ll eat at home or turn the radio on in my car. Massive noise and salads do not mix.
10. Talking politics. Next?
11. What my sink looks like when I come down for breakfast. Honestly? I don’t think any one of you would believe it. Shall I take a photo?
12. The smell of kasha. Check Google if you don’t know what that is. My grandma Sookie, bless her soul, cooked that all the time and sadly, my 2nd strongest memory of her is that odor in her house. The 1st is getting a baby doll from her for my birthday. I can still remember the smell of that rubber. Wow, I really do have olfactory sensitivitie
13. Being interrupted when I’m doing something important, like checking out Facebook Birthday notifications.
14. Going to formal events: a. I hate getting dressed up. b. I hate wearing makeup. c. I hate small talk. c. I’m uncomfortable in large groups of people when I don’t know 99% of them.
15. People (again, you know who you are) who turn on the TV in every room- and leave it on after they’ve left. Ok, let me just get it out of my system- I hate TV unless it’s 2am and I’m trying to fall asleep, in which case, I LOVE the Cooking and HGTV channels.
16. Waiting 8+ months for summer to come, only to be blown out of my skin by the sound of lawnmowers, construction machinery and other outdoor noises when I’m trying to enjoy the few weeks (seemingly) of beautiful weather.
17. Getting caught in the rain.
18. Not being able to make up my mind. And yes, I know it makes those around me crazy.
19. Sitting at a table with one leg a tad shorter than the rest. Wobble wobble
20. People who repeat certain words, like……”like”. Ok, I know you can’t help it and I’m sure I have my own verbal habits. But heck, I can’t help it. My ears get stuck on them and my brain locks up.
21. Tick tock clocks.
22. Socks that are too tight at the top or have a hole in the toe.
23. Lamps with blue light. I need natural light- please!
24. Dark rooms during the day. Please please keep your drapes open when I come over.
25. Getting my sleeves wet. I detest the feeling of wet clothes, but that is the worst.
Ok, I lied. There’s more:
26. Finding dry fruit in my food (especially in my beloved chocolate. Don’t MESS with chocolate! I HATE dry fruit- especially raisins- yick).
27. People who talk with gum in their mouths.
………and these are just off the top of my head. I think I’ll make a running list of things as they happen for a future newsletter, because there are so many of them. Or maybe I should make a list of things that I love! But would that be as interesting? I dunno…..
What drives you nuts? Please share them in the Comment section below- I would love to hear about your quirky irritations!