The “Twelve Days of Christmas” – which actually begin on December 25 because it’s a catholic thing – could be called in the neurodiverse suburbs the “Twelve Days of Listing.”
We struggle so much with our time blindness, that making countless list seems to be “the” tool for time management, planning a clear future, setting a path that is definitely going to take us to where we want to go.
So, to plan a whole year? That’s the ultimate list. But I got to wonder… Is it worth it?
An Hyper’s New Year’s Resolution List
I used to make those “ultimate lists;” I’d start by listing the things to do by importance; “Goal number one: due in January”. I’d begin the year and suddenly it’d be JUNE, and I’d say, “Where did the time go? All the things I wanted to do! WHERE IS THE LIST,” as the mid-year meltdown kicks in to last for a month or two.
But in August I’d feel a rush! And so I’d hyperfocus all throughout September, draining myself to the point of inhuman exhaustion, only to eventually say “It’s October; I’m stressed;” and then I’d crawl until January 1st feeling, “just a few more months; next year you’ll do better.”
Funny story? I was told that in kindergarten, at four years old! I started saying, every single October, “I’m tired; I don’t wanna go to school anymore.” Ha.
So, yes; I stopped making those lists a long time ago. Except for a hyper unicorn or two, we lose the list by January 2nd… ; or, we toss them away on February because we couldn’t do the “January thing” and just by looking at the list we feel what people call us is true: that we are lazy, can’t commit, cannot stick to one thing for once.
Living With ADHD as an Adult
It’s not easy living with a hyper brain. If I were to do a New Year’s Resolution list, I would put on the top of it: “Remember you’re a freaking hero.” And on the second line I’d write: “Serioulsy; remember you’re a fucking hero.” Maybe I should get a tattoo…
I don’t resent being hyper, but if I could wake up one morning, just one, without all the chit chat in my brain and without feeling like I had been plugged into an outlet up my ass before having woken up, I would be… “relief”… (I tried to come up with a metaphor for this “relief” to make my point stronger, until I realized the word is neurotypically underrated)
And, it is definitely not easy being a hyper neurodivergent who was diagnosed in their adulthood. Personally, I’m grateful that I’ve got my brain back, but sometimes it feels like I am learning to live again while I also feel the necessity to catch up with a lifetime.
Since I was properly diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago (and commenced treatment with Ritalin) I feel my brain continues turning light bulbs on that were off, which is good. My quality of life is better; I can manage my time more efficiently; but amongst those light bulbs there are the things I really wanted to do during those decades living undiagnosed and which I couldn’t finish or even start; and because of that, I feel a growing anxiety to do it all, plan it all…, catch up with the lost time.
Can you imagine how my New Year’s Resolutions lists could look like? Cue to the cat and the roll of toilet paper:
Time Blindness and the Rush
I look at myself in an old mirror I used to when I was nineteen years old, I see no wrinkles and I feel that time stood still, that I am still that teenage girl with all those dreams and all that time to make them come true.
As a matter of fact, I like being time-blindness; I take proud in feeling “young”, as if I was “ageless”; neurotypicals couldn’t feel this way. However, that rush I mostly feel only in August, they feel it every day and accordingly they act; they plan, and they do. I can’t… At least not like they can…
When I feel the rush, all those light bulbs turn on at once, and I think, “Let’s find a way to do it all; it’s never too late.” Once in a blue moon, I am aware of my age and what I am not doing to achieve my purpose in life, and I put all hands in deck! But I know my brain needs short-term goals and to focus on taking one step at a time; therefore, I do it; but soon… I get cocky.
Soon I find myself setting another short-term goal with its baby steps, and another one, and later another one; until suddenly I’m back where I started: with a bunch of plans that are no longer plans but a thousand pieces puzzle scattered all over the floor; overwhelmed, stuck…, and tired…, I am so tired.
My Brain; My Goals; My Rules
During this “August rush,” I signed up to resume a college career I had begun in 2007; but I consciously embarked myself in the experience as a test: “Can I study this much again? Can I manage my time to work and study again? Am I still smart?” (Yeah, this last thing too…)
I didn’t resume it with the goal to finish it; my one goal was to pass this semester; I didn’t even plan to take the finals. The classes were at night and, since I take my meds early in the morning, I knew it was going to be painful, so I also wanted to see if I could do that: to function as a human, past noon.
For one of the midterm tests, I was supposed to login at 6pm and write a project in four hours; attending the classes, was one thing and I did my best; but to “think and do something” at night, that was out of the question. So, I asked the principal if they could make an exception due to my ADHD and allow me to take the test during the morning.
After a bunch of bureaucracy (for which I lawyered up) she said yes; and she added, “Ok, but I’m worry about next year; how are we going to do this the next year when all the classes will be at night?”
I replied to her, plain and simple: “Next year is far from now and I cannot nor won’t worry about it now. My goal ‘today’ is to pass this semester. Rule number one for neurodivergents: short and reasonable goals.” Zip it, bitch.
Coming the end of the year, I got to thinking: That rule number one, “short and reasonable goals,” should be rule number two. Rule number one should be: “My brain, my rules.”
I may see in that old mirror a nineteen-year-old girl, but her bag of confusion, pains and struggles is getting lighter, and her bag of wisdom is getting bigger.
Being time-blindness appears to be to others a bad thing; to many of us too. But… Look at what those rule the world are doing: They know the world is dying; they know we’ve got a ten-year window to help saving this planet; they have known it for decades! And what do they do? “They are time-blindness; they cannot think pass now and how much money the change can cost now.”
… There would be so many trees to climb if the world were ruled by neurodivergents…
So, as an adult with ADHD, here’s my one New Year’s resolution: “Be Hyper to the fullest; kick ass; rewind; repeat.”