Finding Calm in the Chaos

The title is ridiculous in that it’s probably impossible, but bear with me. There are things we can actively do to contribute to our overall sense of control, life balance, and more while we cope with the symptoms of ADHD.

Since getting diagnosed, I’ve been sticking to a strict schedule that ensures that my basic needs are met: clean clothes, food availability, happy furbabies, and a tidy(ish) house. Here is what my schedule looked like about a month ago:

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Figure 1: Scheduling everything to make sure I don’t wear pants with dirt on them everyday.

I think it’s pretty nice. Well done, Christine.

So the week went something like this: Monday was for arms exercises (yeah, this lady lifts… sort of), Tuesday was for an extra long walk with Finn, Wednesday was leg exercises/cat litter/ferret cage/vacuuming, Thursday & Friday were open for socialising, Saturday was for farmer market groceries/laundry/prioritizing time outside, and finally Sunday was for grocery store groceries/meal prep/putting away laundry. This schedule worked really well for me while Brett was away at school. I always had clean clothes (and matching socks!), and for the most part there was food in the house to eat. Of course, just because it’s there doesn’t mean that I remembered to eat every meal, but it’s a process! Be kind to yourself!

So everything was bumbling along just fine and dandy until the day I was waiting for finally arrived- Brett moving home and no more long distance! We celebrated by spending a few days in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia drinking too much cider with a local alcoholic, holding Atlantic sturgeon, hiking without proper gear, and holding hands (check out my Instagram for some other photographic evidence that we are interesting). It was exactly what we needed after four grueling years of long distance. (Side note: I did the math, and to date, 73% of our relationship was apart. Brett made a pie chart but I can’t find it to show you so I am sorry for bringing it up, then letting you down. This blog is an emotional roller coaster!).

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Figure 2. Holding a dinosaur, nbd.

So we lived it up. You could say that our mini-cation was “lit”. But then it was time to face reality, pack up Brett’s things, and get home.

The first little bit was okay, but the major shift in schedule caused some big issues for me personally. For the first two weeks after his arrival, I forgot my basic showering routine. When getting ready in the morning, there were four or five occasions when I left the house without makeup- not because I’m against being fresh-faced, but simply because I forgot. I also forgot my “habit forming” medication. There were socks on the floor that had been kept clean for months, and suddenly the fridge was overflowing. A cluttered space makes my brain feel even more cluttered and out of control which = ideal meltdown conditions. This perfect routine I had built up was crumbling because it didn’t account for the person I was now sharing my everyday life with.

It was a struggle to finally sit down to hash out a plan, but making it a priority has made me feel so much more in control of my life again. The schedule is pretty much the same, but now Thursday nights are for date night, and Brett will be taking care of meal prep for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We also worked on a budget, and will be sharing a bank account as we save money for the wedding. It has been so helpful to have a supportive partner who understands my constant need for reassurance and planning (love you Hunky!). It was also nice to have a friend (Vanessa again, from this awesome post) who validated my feelings by saying that the ADHD kids she works with need structure and predictability otherwise they are guaranteed to have a bad day.

Please feel free to steal my schedule and tweak it to your own needs. The trick is making sure that the thing for that day gets done- no hanging out, no procrastinating, no nothing unless those basic tasks are complete. You will thank yourself.

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