How ADHD Saved My Life
I am totally and permanently disabled.
This means that there isn’t a job in the world I can do. I can have hobbies that I can engage in (like this blog), but only at my own pace and with absolutely no external deadlines or expectations of quality.
I am housebound disabled.
This means that I cannot leave my home without severe pain and/or risk of injury to my person. Essentially, I spend 99% of my life in and around my home and pretty much risk my life anytime I leave my home area with a maximum distance of 15 minutes from my home as a “safe zone.” This means I cannot travel any further than 15 minutes from my home (drive or ride) without severe repercussions and days of suffering following the trip. My life, my adventures, my shopping is limited on one stretch of road.
I am bed-ridden 22-hours per day and at mental rest.
This means I spend 22 hours every day in a bed, either laying down sleeping (9 hours per day) or sitting up in a reclined and fully supportive and relaxed position. This also means, that for 22 hours a day I am mentally incapable of taking care of my most basic mental and physical affairs. Such as making simple phone calls and taking a shower.
I am essentially two people; the one who is incapable of self-support and the other who takes care of the one incapable of self-support in a 2 hour a day time span.
This means that I have 2 hours per day to fit into my day everything of importance from personal care, to physical therapy, to housekeeping, meal preparation, taking my dog out, making phone calls, mailing letters, balancing my finances, grocery shopping, clothes shopping, car maintenance, and hobbies.
Imagine, you’re entire life summed up in 2 hours per day.
There is never enough time, just priorities, and non-priorities that never get addressed.
And on top of it all, I have debilitating chronic pain and exhaustion even in those magical 2 hours per day.
So why am I not 500 pounds yet? How am I always well kept? How are my clothes and house clean? How is my fridge always full? How is my dog so well exercised and happy? How am I strong as an ox? How is my life wonderful, rich, beautiful, and purposeful? Why am I not broke and massively in debt? How are the bills always paid on time? How are my meals always prepped? How are my affairs always in order? How in the hell am I still even alive?
Because I was given the GIFT of being ADHD.
I know it sounds bizarre, and calling such disorder a GIFT may be infuriating to some, but it is in my case. Why? Because I can do a little thing known as “hyperfocusing.”
“Hyperfocus is the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention, but rather a problem with regulating one’s attention span to desired tasks.”
This means that for two hours a day, in 5-15 minute intervals I can furiously focus my attention on one task at a time, and muster up the energy and willpower to push through the exhaustion and pain. At the end of that two hours (with rest times in between each hyperfocusing session) I am able to get everything I need to get done, DONE. On days I cannot hyperfocus, nothing gets done, except high-level priorities such as eating and taking the dog out. That’s it. No personal care, no shopping, no hobby time, no exercise, etc. Of course, this is only with a great deal of time management and automating everything that can be.
So why am I not 500 pounds yet?
Because I hyperfocus my way through cardio workouts in 15 minute blasts where I “BRING IT.”
How am I always well kept?
Because I wash my hair in under 2 minutes, and take hot baths towards the end of my 2 hours and just let myself relax and soak.
How are my clothes and house clean?
Because I have certain days I do certain things, and certain months I do certain things (e.g. Sunday I vacuum downstairs, and only vacuum upstairs once a month or less because I really don’t spend any time up there, and I wash dishes immediately after use). I wash clothes when they are all dirty in one load because that’s how few clothes I have (I keep it simple). I have a washer and dryer in my home, so there’s no back and forth to a laundry mat. And, I mainly order my clothes online, rather than run around town trying on a bunch of stuff that will be to tight, itchy, and uncomfortable anyways. I know what clothes work for me, and I buy them in bulk online, but different styles and colors.
How is my fridge always full?
Because I make quick 15 minute trips to the store once a week or every two weeks.
How is my dog so well exercised and happy?
Because she’s trained (by me) for off leash fun and to run laps out back in a big field. She gets more exercise in 15 minutes than most dogs do in a week. No one can catch her, she’s just that fast because she runs hard, and because she LOVES to RUN and we use that to our advantage. There’s also a field right next to the front door, so I can just open the door and she takes herself out, never leaves my sight, is nowhere near a street, and like I said, is well trained.
How am I strong as an ox?
Because of 15 minute strength training workouts with really heavy weights and very slow repetitions. 20lbs weights and 10-15 reps, 7 exercises that vary day to day, week to week, so I slowly work everything and give myself time to rest some muscle groups while I’m working others.
How is my life wonderful, rich, beautiful, and purposeful?
Because I have family in my life (whilst mainly digitally), an awesome dog that makes me laugh and smile, a rich online life that keeps me social, I read and write a lot to keep my mind sharp, and hobbies that give me purpose to keep going, trying, and creating. I also make it a point to get out of the house and have fun for at least 1 hour per week with family or my dog and I allow myself to be fully in the moment.
Why am I not broke and massively in debt?
Because I stopped saying “I can’t afford it!” and started asking “How can I afford it?” By doing this, I have been able to find reasonable solutions for even the biggest financial emergencies. I am 35, born disabled, and I have no debt. I research, I plan, I settle, I balance and watch my spending, and I am constantly on the lookout for more benefits and how to reduce my costs. I live well below my means so that when something does pop up, I have the ability to afford it. Granted, this only applies to my specific expenditures, not everyone else’s.
For instance, I have Medicare and CHAMPVA to cover my health costs, and I don’t receive anything that is outside of that paid care. I don’t smoke, drink, have cable (I Netflix), eat out, go to movies or rent movies, I spend $15 a month in gas, $10-20 on clothes a month max, live in low income housing that I renovated over the years myself (I’d be paying twice as much to live in a place this nice now), I put all my bills on a credit card that racks up points which equal $$ that I use for Christmas and Birthday presents and pay everything off the following month, so no interest.
I use very little hot water which keeps my electric bill low, turned down my water heater temp, and bundle up in the winter. I don’t exercise much, so I don’t eat much, and I always go for the cheaper, but healthy, option when buying groceries. I get everything I possibly can from the Dollar Tree before I get it from somewhere else where I may end up paying 2-3 times more for the same thing. I buy super healthy dog treats in bulk online instead of overpriced small packages at a pet store.
If I have a major expense (like when I needed a new computer or TV), I open up a new credit card with $100-$250 cash back after so much $ in purchases and have 15 months to pay it all off with 0% APR. I have done this several times and have EXCELLENT credit to this day. These are just some examples of how I have anticipated and prepared for expenses, and sculpted my life and finances to be where I am today, and am SO THANKFUL for it.
How are the bills always paid on time?
Simple, because they are ALL automatically paid every month either from my bank account, Bill Pay, or credit card (which I pay off every month in full – automatically).
How are my meals always prepped?
Because I prep for the week. I sort everything out into tupperware and freeze them. That way, making my meals typically only requires less than 5 minutes to actually heat up and make. It’s tricky when you make everything from scratch, but not time consuming once you get the hang of it.
How are my affairs always in order?
Because I prioritize and make LISTS. This way, I never forget about the important stuff, and when I find myself with extra time (yes, I actually have extra time, at least for little easy stuff), I can try fitting in something today that didn’t get done yesterday. I also hold off on things less of a priority until I have a few of the same things to do. That way I do them all at once, like going to the store (I make lists, and when they are full, I go, not every time I need 1-2 things).
How in the hell am I still even alive?
Because I CAN HYPERFOCUS. And, as long as I can hyperfocus, I can make it work. It’s not easy, it drives me up the wall most days, but I manage, and in the end, it’s the only reason I’m still here. I want to believe that everyone has a way to make it work, because I could. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But I’d like to think that despite all of my restrictions and limitations – if I can make it work, anyone can.