You know, there was a time when being overwhelmed was … well, overwhelming beyond tolerance.
And though I don’t think I’m all that much different than I was before my diagnosis, retrospect reveals a different story.
It seems that, if I look back, I’m not the man I once was. And that may be a good thing.
There was a time when, if things got to be overwhelming, I’d just close up shop and leave reality behind.
No, I wouldn’t have a mental breakdown. Well, not one that you’d recognize at least.
I’d just not bother
I’d abandon responsibilities. I’d quit jobs. I’d not bother to show up to things I didn’t want to attend or participate in.
I thought I was being selective, but I was really being rude.
And that’s not all …
I was allowing the feeling of being overwhelmed to control my life.
I’d tell myself that I really didn’t want to participate in things, which was often a lie.
The whole truth
I usually sacrificed something I had wanted to do because participation meant doing things that I felt overwhelming.
Some mental health professionals are actually using the word “overwhelm” as a noun and referring to these situations as suffering from overwhelm.
And that, is a good thing
It needed a name. Saying “I’m overwhelmed.” was like saying, “I’m really very busy.” It didn’t mean anything. And this is not that.
But the ADHD version of being overwhelmed can actually be debilitating. Especially if you have no idea what’s going on.
Without a diagnosis …
Without a diagnosis you have to assume that your life is as close to normal as it should be, and that the problems you’re having are of your own making. You have to assume you’re doing something wrong.
And you’re too embarrassed to ask what that might be. In fact, you’re not even sure how to explain what’s happening.
That’s when you check out of things. When it’s too difficult to explain things to yourself, how are you going to explain your fears and trepidation, your confusion and your inability to organize and time things properly to others?
Since my diagnosis, I’ve realized that the symptoms I have learned about are responsible for the issues and troubles I have in dealing with life.
And now, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I can usually sit down and analyze what part of my ADHD is causing what things to seem overwhelming. And I can make decisions about whether to recalculate my approach or just close my eyes and coast through the fog of overwhelm.
And these days, I’m getting good at both recalculating and coasting.
And the noun, “Overwhelm” has been reduced to its rightful position in my life. It is no longer a noun for me, though I reserve the right to write about it as such for the sake of my readers. Now things that are overwhelming are just that, things, with an adjective descriptor that puts them into perspective as challenges that I will endure and overcome.