This past Thursday was World Mental Health Day. My fellow PsychCentral bloggers were “blog party”-ing it up here.
I’d originally planned to participate, of course. Just like I did last year. And the year before.
So, where the hell was I on Thursday? Why did I forget?
Well, I was caught up in my endless loop of anxiety and distraction, as usual. First, I ran off to teach class for a few hours at the technical college across the river.
After class, I packed up and drove home. Because that’s what I always do after class. It’s part of my Tuesday/Thursday autopilot setting.
Then, after walking through my front door (and putting a few dishes away and then finally hanging up my purse and my keys – in that order), I realized that I’d totally forgotten to attend a professional development seminar that I’d signed up for. Dammit!
Oh, and the location of the seminar? Just a couple of rooms away from where I’d just finished teaching.
It’s no wonder that I also forgot about World Mental Health Day. I was too busy feeling angry with myself for forgetting to attend yet another planned event – one that would have only taken a few steps (literally!) to get to.
Ugh. That brain of mine, pesky in so many ways.
When it’s not saturated with anxiety (and even when it is), inattentiveness is a huge problem for me. I can only play the chicken-or-egg game for so long – does the anxiety make me distractible, or does my distractibility make me anxious? – before I throw my hands up in frustration.
I give up on that question for now. I really do. My diagnosis is panic disorder, not ADHD – but it might as well be both. I aced the Amen ADHD checklist. And I identify strongly with something like 80% of the most common ADHD traits.
Clinical diagnosis or not, I’m trying to treat myself – behaviorally speaking – as if I did indeed have an ADHD diagnosis. I try to stay on task during work by using the Pomodoro technique (when I remember to use it).
I (try to) spend my evenings planning the best way to prevent the next morning from becoming a spectacular failure. I do this by locating my keys, planning my outfit, and making sure my phone is charged. I’ve forgotten to charge and/or bring my cell phone too many times to count – oh, what panic THAT has unnecessarily caused me!
And, most recently, I bought a daily planner that I found rated highly on ADDitude. Remember that post a few weeks ago where I decided to ditch my At-A-Glance planner?
Well, I ended up replacing it with a Planner Pad brand daily planner. It’s truly become my external brain – I write down everything in it (although I’m still guilty of sneaking a few to-do lists onto index cards that end up scattered around the house or crumbled and matted together with stray sticks of gum at the bottom of my purse.)
My ultimate hope is that, once all of the above becomes habit, I’ll see a decline in my general level of anxiety.
READING ABOUT DISTRACTION WITHOUT GETTING DISTRACTED
I’ve been voraciously reading up on ADHD within the past few months – or, well, trying to. (Trying to pay attention to a book about trying to pay attention? Yeah, it’s not simple.) I only got through Edward M. Hallowell’s Driven to Distraction because I listened to the audio version. And I have Sari Solden’s Women with Attention Deficit Disorder sitting half-read on my bookshelf.
But there’s one book I’m still working on chapter-by-pleasantly-short chapter: ADHD According to Zoe.
Does the title sound familiar? If you’re a PsychCentral regular, it should. Written by Zoe Kessler (who writes the similarly-titled “ADHD From A to Zoe” blog here on PsychCentral), ADHD According to Zoe is keeping my attention (and I’m not even using the Pomodoro method to read it!)
Now, I can’t really give you a full review because I’m only about halfway through. Still, I can tell you this much: each chapter presents a super-friendly balance of personal storytelling, relevant research, and practical advice for handling everything from money to job interviews to friendships with less impulsivity and greater mindfulness. Even the short chapters are further broken down into ultra-digestible sections (of only a few paragraphs apiece – at the most!)
If you’ve got an ADHD diagnosis – one with a heavy emphasis on the “H” in particular – you’ll find yourself in a comforting kinship with the author.
The book is available on Amazon, but I’ll be giving away a copy tomorrow for free! So, after putting a note in your own calendar or planner (so you don’t forget!), check back then to details on how you can enter to win!
Photo: Alexis Mire (Flickr)