8 thoughts on “Beware the Trap of Perfectionism: An ADHD Lesson

  • January 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Amusing but not so funny. I’ll try to keep this in mind as I finally tackle some renovations to make my place – well, homey, a nice place to visit, maybe even to live. I think my desire to be perfect has always stopped me from committing to any changes because i want those A list improvements on a D-list budget. That, and the fact that I am scared to start dismantling anything knowing how rarely things get “re-mantled”

    And thanks for leveling about the tantrum — been there on occasion. Oh god, how you feel afterward the squall. How the recipient of the insanity feels!

    • January 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks for your understanding and sharing, oldblackdog!

      Fortunately, the friend at the receiving end of my meltdown was very understanding. Also thankfully, my hissy fit only lasted for that day and had largely dissipated within the next 24 hours. I admit though, it did take me about another month or so to finally say, the heck with it, and just go ahead and unpack already! I just couldn’t take it any more.

      I can finally see an end in sight.

      As for having taste beyond our means, me too! I can walk into ANY store and find the most expensive thing, the one thing that appeals to me, without even looking at the price tag. Never fails. Fortunately, the friends (who, as luck would have it are also contractors) who have been helping me have been very resourceful in helping me get some good deals. I have an “if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right” mentality (which is actually a step or two below the neurotic perfectionism of this article), and I’ve managed to find good materials and workmanship, and contractors with excellent taste. All in all, I’m very happy with how it’s turning out.

      And desperate to have it all over and done with!

      Soon… very soon…

      …if only I could say the same for my ADHD!

      Take care!

  • January 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    HELLOOOOOOO Zoe!!!!!!

    We bought our first house in June 2008. Not unpacking for three months,try almost a year and a half! I even made my boyfriend and I live without cable or interent for three months, because I felt I wouldn’t have any help if he coudl watch TV, also I would actually have to unpack and organize a living room and a computer room before I made those rooms ready.
    Needless to say, I broke free when I decided to change my life in 2011. Now 2013 we have a perfect bedroom (minus the windows that still need replacing), an 80% refinished dining area (still needs an electrition to install a light, a kitchen that only has a few spots of spackle on the wall and a 1/2 painted ceiling because we didn’t like the way the tin celiling looked with that paint…..We have replaced a few doors and some windows and had the downstairs floors refinished….. . Although we recently dusted of the brushes and painted the windowsill in the bathroom. My husband sanded, I “fixed” his caulking job and painted the first coat. He painted the second coat because I still have perfectionist? issues or some sort of issue with the second coat. I swear if I could just take a painting class at The Home Depot I would probably be ok. It made the new window look amazing!

    BUT the previous owners’ shades are still hung on 50% of the windows and the list of things to do is not getting crossed off as much as I’d like.

    On the bright side :), I have accepted it is what it is, and my house is definately my HOME sweet HOME now! Things will get done when I have time to get them done.

    Your fan,

    • January 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      LOL! You know what? I think I feel a reality show coming on… stay tuned… might make a great blog post…

      KLL, thanks again for sharing more of your story!

      Your fan (and right back atcha!),

  • January 12, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I’ve lived in the same house since 1986. I’m still here. I question myself almost daily. “It’s time for change!” My husband is comfortable and this is the home we raised our kids in. Like any ADHD woman, change is hard. My parents moved so much and renovated, built, and I suffered the change. I decided that I would never move. I’m not sure it’s healthy to stay put like this. I have everything in good running order, clean, could use new floors and trim, but this ‘home sweet home’ thing is becoming over-rated and ‘boring’ for me now. It would be nice to smell fresh cut lumber and walk on new teak floors for a change. I want to push myself to move into something brand new and more my taste, but it’s still hard. I blame my husband for liking it here, and my kids for calling this box, ‘home’. Truly, if I wanted to move, I think they’d all go along with it. Why are we so difficult? If I knew I had ADHD all along, it might have been treated? I might have accepted and maybe embraced the change my parents inflicted on me growing up. Instead, I’m a crabby procrastinating you know what. I realize it’s not my fault. It’s ADHD. I also realize I suffer the perfectionism issues you speak of above. I think about the imperfections in my home, ie: peeling paint on the garage ceiling that requires a contractor with a strong neck to repair, I need to do something about the sidewalks on both sides of the house. All really small things that bug me. My husband is not a handyman. It is I that barks and complains and does what I can. Trouble is I procrastinate and want to see it done on the spot at the same time. It’s not easy being like this. At least I know that it isn’t my fault now!

    • January 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Jane49.

      No, the symptoms of ADHD are NOT your fault. Still, it sounds like you and your husband might enjoy reading Melissa Orlov’s excellent book about relationships, The ADHD Effect on Marriage, to help you deal with your differences and challenges (both partners’ challenges and strengths are taken into consideration) and to learn how to negotiate more smoothly so that you’re both happier.

      Just a thought.

      Another thought is, instead of moving altogether, what about making dramatic but less expensive change so that you feel like you’re in a new, fresh place but your kids and husband aren’t uprooted? For example, paint the walls of one of your rooms a completely different colour (or colours; my friend insists a room needs a “contrast” colour on one of the walls, and I admit I like the effect). As far as new furnishings go, it’s always possible to pick up really nice used stuff at estate auctions, on special garbage days when we’re allowed to toss large items (cruise the upscale neighbourhoods and you’ll find some awesome stuff!) and at second-hand stores.

      Take care of yourself!


    • January 13, 2013 at 11:18 am


      I second Zoe’s advice, but stress starting very very very small like Zoe said, ONE room and ONE task at a time. I know our over active thinking can draw up a gazzzzillion ideas and get us going in all different dirrections and then overwhelmed and then the procrastinaton. So try to keep it small.
      On a second note I know change is hard I stayed in a bad job for years. The procrastination to update the resume and call a consultant and post on Monster was crazy. But, I DID IT!! 3 times now and it is awesome! I can’t imagine staying put in one job with the same people for 20 years like some do. I love meeting people, it helps me learn and grow and makes me feel like I’m really living life not coasting through it. Good luck Jane, you can do it.


      Ps correction to my post. It was 2010 my life changing decision. Then 2011 namaste and 2012-infinity SERENITY!

  • January 15, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for the guidance. I do start several rooms at once. It is getting done gradually. I’ll check out the book Zoe recommended. I have a couple going right now and like the rooms, they may or may not get done in a year!

    I have this part time job I keep thinking I should leave, but then away from it, I miss it. I too need a lot of people around me. Meeting new people is fun as well.

    Thank you for all the tips. I will start cruising the upscale neighbourhoods on garbage day some time soon. However I have two paid storage units of my Mom’s to unload and an estate sale would be a great idea. I just don’t like selling things! From two leather couches I have no room for to all kinds of glassware, I have no room. Maybe I’ll go shopping in her storage units first!


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