It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally managed to transition from the “before times” to living in the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis. Some say we’re now living a “new normal,” an expression which means nothing to me as I never actually figured out what the old “normal” was.
For me, and many others with ADHD, transitions have always been a toughie. And as far as transitions go – this one’s been a doozy.
Add to that, unlike so many others, I’ve been working even more hours than usual throughout this entire pandemic. What I’ve been doing is a story for another day, but let’s just say working on the frontline through a deadly and highly transmissible virus has brought on full-blown anxiety and depressive symptoms, not to mention occasional sheer panic and disrupted sleep.
I’ve tackled those, mostly. Finally – after a mere three months since I posted my announcement that “I’m baaaack…” on PsychCentral.com – here I am posting again. I admit this time lag has felt cringe-worthy and I do apologize. But hey, you know: pandemic.
Getting back to blogging is just one sign I’ve finally transitioned. Social distancing has now become second nature. So second nature in fact, I caught myself doing it while I was in the car. Driving. Alone. Stopped at a red light, I suddenly realized I’d unnecessarily left six feet between my car and the one ahead of me.
They say it takes 60 days to form a new habit. For those of us with ADHD – OK, for me – three or four months seems about right. Either way, through my transition time I’ve developed even more habits to serve as coping skills during the plague.
In Canada, many of us now routinely wear face masks. They’re mostly homemade, from fun, fashion-forward (or backward if, like me, you live in rural Ontario) fabrics. I’ve made such a solid transition to mask-wearing, I actually caught myself driving home after work still donning my favorite floral print.
As soon as I realized this, I took the opportunity to take it off while at a four-way stop.
As the foot patrol officer approached my car, I rolled down the window.
“Nothing wrong,” I quipped cheerily, hoping I wouldn’t get scolded for distracted driving or impeding traffic or some such thing (in rural Canada we often get scolded, and sometimes we even get waved along with a smile, rather than ticketed or worse.)
As I dropped it into the plastic bag I’d brought for the purpose (another new habit) I explained I’d forgotten I was still wearing my mask and just wanted to take it off. I wished the officer a good morning and drove away, mask- (and ticket-) free.
More of a struggle for me (being the impulsive type – yet another of my more pronounced ADHD traits) has been curbing my spontaneous hug-giving. I’ve always been a touchy-feely type who once flagrantly caressed a Rodin sculpture at the Met because it was there. And, you know: sculpture.
Not hugging, for me, has been one of the biggest sacrifices of the pandemic. Fortunately, as mentioned, I’ve mastered social distancing. Even more fortunate – my arms are not six feet long. Therefore, I can now stop myself mid-way when crossing the social distance to hug a friend or even a co-worker (hey, I never said I had mastered appropriate hugging; I’m still a work-in-progress). Realizing what I’m about to do is verboten, I often find myself backing up while uttering an embarrassed apology.
Embarrassed apologies: having not been diagnosed with ADHD until age 47, that’s a skill I mastered long ago.