I smile any time someone asks what a “typical” day in my life entails. Usually I’m asked this by journalists writing about entrepreneurship (I own a bookstore). I worry my response will somehow disappoint them because I don’t have specific routines or superstitions that are a part of many famous entrepreneurs’ mythic origin stories.
For years, I’ve felt a secret sense of embarrassment in many areas of my life, and this embarrassment surfaces whenever I reveal to someone that I have never been able to consistently stick to a routine.
I’m not aiming to evade the topic of this post. Rather, I want to express how varied my days are and how my recent ADHD diagnosis at the age of 41 is helping me understand my patterns -- or lack thereof -- in a more self-compassionate light.
Perhaps some of you living with ADHD will find the following scenarios familiar.
One day I may wake from a restorative sleep, ready to take on the world. I look at my to-do list, drink coffee, and even muster the motivation to go for a walk. Inevitably, I think to myself, “I am kicking butt today! I should do this every day!”
Once at work, I somehow tackle enough tasks that I manage to close my computer with zero concerns about the workload that will await me the next morning. God forbid I manage this kind of routine two days in a row: my internal dialogue is wholly taken over by my inflated ego. I’m convinced that this is the new me and that I, a changed woman, will forever be focused and motivated. Voilà!
But then a new day rolls around, and I snooze my alarm 20 times (no exaggeration). I tell myself I can skip a healthy breakfast or morning walk -- it’s just one day, after all! I get sucked into an Instagram hole, scrolling infinitely until I get out of bed only out of necessity (usually because I have to pee).
You know what doesn’t help on days like this? The incessantly harsh self-talk in my head. I try to practice loving kindness and remind myself that the voice’s insults (“You’re lazy!” “Can you imagine how much you could do if you weren’t such an unmotivated procrastinator?” etc.) are just thoughts, and thoughts are not undeniable truths I need to believe in or even consider much.
As soon as I got my ADHD diagnosis, I gobbled up every article, book, and podcast I could, astounded at how so much of the shame I felt surrounding my self-perceived unmet potential was echoed in other people’s accounts. As I learned how ADHD impairs the brain’s executive function, I was able to examine my inconsistent days in a new light. My hope is I will be able to establish routines once my holistic ADHD treatment plan is fully in place.
And maybe one day, not too long from now, I’ll have a simple answer when someone asks about my days.
Photo Credit: Anna_Isaeva/iStock via Getty Images
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