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ADHD: A reminder of what a bad day looks like

There are times when, for many days in a row, I feel completely fine and normal. On these days the symptoms of ADHD are mostly small quirks that make me chuckle to myself as I discover a lost item put in a silly place, re-tell someone the same story for the third time, or consider the scattered way I’ve packed my lunch bag. It’s like this with the anxiety, too. Some days it feels so far away, so long since I’ve felt the effects in a life-altering way, that I think to myself “maybe it’s not as bad as I made it out to be.”


That is why I’m writing this.


On one of those days when I’m truly struggling, when I see the ADHD manifesting most, I want to document the thoughts, feelings, and challenges that I’m dealing with.

Not for the purpose of “proving myself,” but for the purpose of maintaining the larger picture of the ups and downs of what I’m dealing with. Because oftentimes, when I’m “up” I can’t remember the “down.”


So this was me today.


A shook-up soda.


The brutal discord of incongruent ways of being: I have so much I want to get done; I cannot get myself to do anything at all; I’m crawling out of my skin with the need to move; I feel chained to my seat with anxiety.


A coworker and friend walks by. I complain of my struggle. He tells me, “come on, just get to it.” Tears well up in my eyes. I can’t. I just can’t. I mean I can. I know I can. But I pathetically, frustratingly, maddeningly, cannot make myself start anything.


But as I simmer in the paralysis, I get these glints of ideas. Quick as a flash of sunlight off someone’s watch into my eyes.


Look for lights for the kitchen. Text mom. Make a grocery list. Process one book. Prep a book cart.


But as fast as they came, they’re gone. I’m back staring at my inbox. Not even able to get myself to clear that out.


Perhaps once every hour or two between impetuously clicking from tab to tab on my internet browser, I’ll grab hold of one of these glints. A task that feels easy enough to do. I then dive down its interminable rabbit hole and find myself, 75 minutes later, dry eyed and deaf to the goings-on around me, unaware of what it was I had originally set out to do and no closer to accomplishing the original task. Worse yet, I check the clock and find that the precious minutes have wasted away, but still feel tortuously far from that moment where I get to walk out of the building, sun on my face, rolling out of the parking lot trying to exhale what cannot all be exhaled at once.


And so here I am. It’s the end of the day. My desk is a mess. I haven’t even finished writing my to-do list. I’m surrounded by the scraps of tasks I had partially started and lost focus on along the way. I managed to write this, but even as I'm typing, I’m flitting back and forth between paragraphs, chasing down thoughts that I'm dying to nail into place.


What is it like to not have days like this?

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