Painting Yourself Into a Corner: ADHD’s Persistence

This weekend, with the encouragement of a dear friend, I began to tackle the back hallway. Most of the house has damaged wood floors, but the back hallway was especially bad. The wood was so scuffed, scratched, and gouged that any liquid would absorb into the wood and cement all the little dirt particles stuck in the crevices. I live in Canada, so in the winter a nice cocktail of road salt and melting snow from our boots would seep into that porous wood, while my brain simultaneously leached grungy feelings of homeowner incompetence into my self-esteem.

It was a few weeks ago, over three glasses of delicious malbec wines, that this friend casually mentioned that she recently had some success cleaning her damaged wood floors. My ears perked up  immediately and I enthusiastically asked for some tips. Equipped with a shopping list and eagerness to show this hallway who was boss (finally), I set sail for my supplies. After triumphantly returning home and putting on a pot of Kraft Dinner, I got to work. I sprayed and scrubbed, sprayed and scrubbed… but the floor was getting worse and my macaroni was now a solid mass of overcooked carbohydrates. I sent a desperate text and she kindly offered to demonstrate her method. Turns out I wasn’t using the right brush and my cleaning mixture was off. We had some initial success but I wanted to take it a step further… with sand paper. “Just the bad parts”, I said thinking that I would only sand the darkness out of the deep gashes.

Figure 1: Before (left) and after (right) cleaning efforts.

If you know ADHD or me personally, we can laugh together at the fact that we both know this turned into an all encompassing sanding [ob]session where the entire back hallway was sanded down to (mostly) original wood. My wrists are still sore from pressing down on a vibrating machine for hours on end with Brett following behind with the vacuum. A few times I felt faint. But it had to get done. And it did. And it looked phenomenally better.

Figure 2: Dehydrated, exhausted, and WebMD suspected carpal tunnel syndrome all result in a respectable looking back hallway floor.

That night, I even got the first coat of varnish on it. I had planned properly and made sure that the cat was locked in the dungeon (aka. basement with food, water, blankets, litter, and a few naturally occurring bugs for entertainment), the dog was upstairs, the ferret was in his cage, windows were open, the fan was on, etc. I left the un-screened door window open and almost let a june bug in though, so -1 point for Sunday night Christine.

Figure 3: First coat of varnish ft. Fat Cat and Feather Duster Butt.

Now to get to the point of this long-winded, you’re-probably-bored-out-of-your-mind blog post: Monday night. Having just returned from an ADHD presentation by Shawn Smith of Don’t Dis-My-Ability thanks to Riverbend Community School, I felt pretty hopeful about being neurologically diverse and was confident about my final day’s task: applying a second coat of varnish to the back hallway. Everyone was upstairs, so I rolled up my sleeves and got on my knees. I remembered to close the window this time, too. OBVIOUSLY, I was the master of this domain.

That feeling last precisely 3 minutes and ended when an unsuspecting ferret came waddling around the corner nearly ruining my precision strokes of wet varnish. “Jeez”, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I forgot to put him back! Good thing I haven’t painted the floor I need to talk on to bring him to his cage”. So I put him away and got back on my knees. Paint, paint, paint, fa la la. One board at a time, brush strokes running with the grain, varnish glistening in the incandescent hallway light. Sweet success. Pats on the back and slow golf claps all around. 10:27pm.

I hobbled to my feet and brought my brush and paint can towards the kitchen, but I had barricaded the door so the ferret couldn’t get out. And then I had to gingerly shove my entire arm through the crack in the door as to not tip over the heavy clay vase that I had employed as the barricade. Another crisis averted. Phew! But upon walking up to the island, I realized I had painted the lid into a corner. And forgot to lock the back door. And forgot to feed the cat. And forgot to bring the cat downstairs. I realized now that a) we might get broken into, b) we will have to listen to the cat meowing all night because he’s hungry and has no litter box, and c) I am a incompetent idiot for feeling confident about my achievement earlier. I plastic wrapped the paint and cleaned my brush, feeling defeated as I walked upstairs. I almost let the cat out of our bedroom when I first got upstairs, and then successfully (accidentally) let him escape the second time I tried entering with his and Finn’s bowl of water. I cursed loudly while running down after him, and the first thing he did was run over the back hallway floor.

ADHD will never go away. ADHD sits and waits patiently while my medication takes effect, and silently takes back the reins when it wears off. It makes me feel like my entire life is an out-of-control mess, when reality tells me that there are a few cute cat prints in the floor now (that could be sanded out tomorrow). Last night was a hard reminder that no matter how many routines, excellent medications, plans, and lists are made, ADHD is still there. And thankfully, yesterday I was able to surround myself with people to remind me that that’s okay.


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