Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ADHD: Why We Procrastinate

Today I procrastinated until I realized I had too much on my plate. Us ADD'ers have a hard time balancing. We either say yes to everything or no to everything. This morning I went on a long hike with a friend who's moving out of town. Tonight I'm having a dozen people over for a going-away-dinner for the same friend. In between hiking, shopping, cooking, and staying fed, I was supposed to study for my Intimidating Friday Final.

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted to, I could not pick up those books to study. Procrastination had set in. After several hours of agony, during which time I got all the food made, I realized that I was exhausted.

Exhaustion is a funny thing. It's not good or bad, it just is so don't beat yourself up over it. It also prevents any mental exertion from taking place. I've learned not to try. That sounds like a terrible thing as we've been told all our lives that we should try harder. Pigbath! (That sounded funnier than "hogwash" so I thought I'd give it a try.) When your horse is falling down underneath you, the fastest way to get to your destination is to rest and feed it. You can keep trying all you want but all you're going to get is a slower horse until your horse is dead.

Experience has taught me that the best way to prepare for Intimidating Friday Finals is to eat and get a good nights sleep. And so, I will not be studying tonight. It will do me no good -- nothing will stick. I'm no longer procrastinating studying for my Intimidating Friday Final as I've given myself permission to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ADHD, Finals, and Burning the Stew

I was an hour early. I remembered to fill out a notecard. I remembered a scantron, pencil, and eraser. I even remembered the room number. What I didn't remember was a calculator -- and this final was for my accounting class. What I didn't remember was my meds. Thankfully, the hyperfocus kicked in and I was able to concentrate on the test. The words on the page made sense today. I actually did all my calculations longhand twice! When I turned the test in, I felt good. Really good. In fact, I probably got an A on it.

On the drive home, I wanted to go see my horse but realized I was getting hungry. Getting hungry is not an option for me any more. The opportunity costs are way too high. So, I went to the grocery store, bought stuff for stew, came home, made beef stew, and turned the heat to low to let it simmer. You guessed it. An hour later, I smelled it burning. Thankfully, only the bottom burnt and the rest is mouth-watering delicious. Over-all a wonderfully successful day. I made the grade and I've got amazing stew on the stove.

Three months ago this would have been a very different story. Why am I happy about today? Why am I not beating myself up about my "failures"? First, I got more than eight hours of good sleep. I let myself wind down and wouldn't let myself think too hard before going to bed last night. Second, I ate a big breakfast. I ate two eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and beans -- the right amount of efficient protein, energy, and soluble fiber to keep me fueled for the morning. Third, I focused on solutions, not mistakes, when I realized I'd forgotten the calculator. Fourth, I ate before I got hungry, preventing blood sugar swings. Fifth, I didn't think too hard about cooking or what I should be doing, I just did it. Sixth, when the stew burnt, I didn't beat myself up.

I did at least six things right so that even though I made two potentially big mistakes, I passed my final and I have stew to eat. That's what really matters.