When I graduated college, I decided I needed a little time off to rest and recharge. After so many years of hard work, a couple months of doing nothing seemed like an absolute dream. And at first, I loved my newfound freedom to sit in bed and watch The Office all day or take a long road trip on a whim or cook something elaborate and experimental just for kicks.
But after two months with no structure or real responsibilities, I am practically bored to tears. The novelty of an empty calendar wore off quickly and when my ADHD set in I had nothing to use my excessive energy and imagination on.
I can’t remember the last time in my life when I had more than a week or two with nothing to do. If I wasn’t in school, I was in camp or working or interning. And as much as I craved a break during those times, it turns out staying busy is a crucial part of maintaining my mental health. I desperately need things to do, think, and talk about.
Because, honestly, with nothing I need to get out of bed for, some days I just don’t. I’ve spent far too much time on my phone and on social media. I stay up too late and waste half the day sleeping. I get bored and lonely and sad. Instead of enjoying my time off, it’s started to feel like I just waste day after day after day.
So I’ve learned a big and very important lesson: those of us with ADHD and mental health issues need routine, structure, and things to occupy our wonderfully active and creative minds each day. I’ve found this to be true both for myself and my family and friends with ADHD. But since I still have few concrete responsibilities right now, it’s hard to implement and stick to a routine of my own accord even though I know I need to.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve found a magic fix. But a few things that have helped me so far! Yoga classes have been a great way to re-center myself. Instead of watching hours of TV, I’ve tried to re-direct my attention to reading and picking back up old hobbies like playing guitar. It’s also been important for me to make a conscious effort to meet up with friends regularly to get me out of my house. This phase of my life is definitely challenging, but each day I find it more and more important to learn how to entertain myself without a busy schedule.
What do you do during time off and how to do build routines? Let me know in the comments!
A lot has happened since I last posted. I graduated from college and I’m very proud to say that despite all of my learning disabilities, I was able to graduate Cum Laude with Honors.
This big transition has meant awkwardly navigating adulthood and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. But more on that later!
I took May and June off to recharge after a stressful year, so I’ve been visiting friends around the country a lot this past month. But with ADD, a three-hour drive can feel as tedious and draining as a nine-hour drive (and the nine-hour drive I took felt like a trillion years.) So, the 40 hours of driving I’ve done in the last few weeks felt pretty brutal. Obviously sitting still for a long time is not my biggest strength and I don’t handle prolonged boredom well. So there were certainly a few meltdowns and moments of hysterical laughing along the way.
But I’ve learned a few tricks to get through it with my sanity intact. If you have a summer road trip coming up, here are some ways you can get through it too!
- Play the alphabet game! I know this may sound a little strange. But my boyfriend/road trip buddy and I played the alphabet at least 10 times during our trips and it really helps pass the time. In case you’re not familiar, have each player make their way from A to Z by finding words along the road that start with each letter in order. Whoever gets to Z first wins! It’s definitely a silly game, but I’ve found that getting competitive energizes me and keeps my brain occupied for a while
- Try a podcast. I’ve actually never really been into podcasts, I usually prefer to just listen to music. But after 6 hours in the car, I had pretty much run out of songs. Since I was driving with a hockey enthusiast, we turned on the “Podcast Off Ice” interview with Lindsey Vonn and following her story gave me something with substance to focus my attention on.
- Take enough rests along the way. If you think you can get to your destination without stopping frequently, you’re lying to yourself. It may make the trip a little longer, but the worst thing you can do is keep yourself cooped up in the car without a chance to stretch and let out a little energy. Stop at a gas station once in a while, run around, do some jumping jacks and get a crunchy snack. You’ll be very glad you did and so will whoever you’re driving (pun intended) crazy in the car.
- Bring lots of snacks. This may be an obvious one but light snacking in the car always helps keep me present. When I’m in the passenger seat, it also gives me something to do with my hands that isn’t biting my nails (they are the unfortunate victims of my trips). I particularly like crunchy snacks because it’s a little more fun and textured to help expel some energy.
- Sing in gibberish for a while and have a mini-meltdown if you need to (I did a lot of both of these). Let’s all be honest, I will never be an easy, low maintenance road trip buddy. No amount of games or rest stops can re-wire my brain to be good at sitting still for hours. But make the best of your time on the road and try some of these tips to make it more doable.
Do you have any road trip tricks? Let me know in the comments!
Over the last two weeks, my room slowly devolved into complete and utter filth. The floor was totally buried in clothes and I had to step over piles of papers, shoes and purses to get around. There were leftover wrappers, empty Amazon boxes and some even some unwashed cups and dishes. Please don’t judge me too much, but the state of things in my bedroom was pretty grim.
Now I can assure you that this is not my preferred my way of living and I swear, in the rest of my life I am not a total disaster. But as many of you with ADD may relate to, I just couldn’t will myself to focus on cleaning it up. I had put it off for so long that the mountain of stuff in front of me had become too overwhelming for me to even process where to start.
By the time it became intolerable, I knew I had to conquer my mess. But I kept starting in one area of my room and then switching to another area, then getting distracted again. When the biggest problem was folding and putting away my clothes, I got bored and cleaned my sink instead — a much less urgent task.
So I turned to my American Shaman CBD Oil to help me focus and the biggest strategy I landed on was really committing to cleaning one thing at a time, whether that’s a certain corner of your room or tackling all your clothes at once. It was hard to stay focused long enough to clean the giant mess I had created, but by the end, it was so worth it. A clean room did wonders for my mental health and ended up helping my focus going forward.
My mess mission now is to follow the advice I read earlier in the year and commit to taking care of my clothes and messes right in the moment. I still find myself tossing a shirt on the floor when I get home and I know my habits won’t change right away. But little by little I’m learning to fold right when I get home.
How do you keep a clean room? Let me know in the comments?
Last year I found myself saying to my boyfriend, “sometimes I forget things, like my keys and that you love me.”
So I will be the first to admit that it can be a bit of a wild ride dating someone with ADD because our personalities have some special quirks.
I will always be more forgetful than most and may need a little help finding my keys. And my phone. And my sunglasses. Sometimes I will get all wound up and energetic at inconvenient times. I may be a little hypersensitive, but that gives me greater compassion. I will probably be more anxious than most people and maybe even a little needy once in a while. But it’s because I love deeply and fully.
Despite these “challenges,” I reject the idea that dealing with all these unique tendencies makes us difficult to love. In the past, I’ve had people get angry at me for being forgetful or a little spacey from time to time. But I’ve come to embrace that my ADD also helps me bring so many wonderful things to my relationships. So I refuse to feel ashamed.
Those of us with ADD offer something special in our dating lives. We will be more fun, more spontaneous and more willing to adventure on a whim. Our hypersensitivity makes us more open, loving, emotive and caring. While sometimes our hyperactivity may flare up at the wrong moment, it will surely be entertaining to watch. Knowing more about our own mental health helps bring a rare level of self-awareness to our dating life and having overcome some adversity because of our ADD in and out of the classroom, we are more empathetic and compassionate when others are suffering.
So find a partner who can learn to love all of your quirks and embrace the fun and joy that comes with your ADD. And if they’re really the one, hope that they also have a knack for finding your keys.
This picture is from an article I wrote for my high school newspaper about how incredibly hard the college admissions process was for me. So knowing now that people were out there totally cheating the system really angers me.
By now you’ve probably heard about the high-profile college admissions scandal that came out recently, in which parents paid to get their children into universities through bribing faculty, hefty donations or arranging for their children to cheat on the SATs. Paying off a college to get your kid in is obviously terrible. But the fact that some of the parents “bought” their kids a learning disability to get SAT accommodations makes me absolutely furious.
My learning disabilities have affected me in almost every class I’ve ever taken. They often force me to work much harder than my peers to get the same results. They have been a constant source of anger and frustration for years because I can’t do things that come easily to other students. My accommodations are what helps bridge this gap and without them, I would have completely floundered in school. To think of someone taking advantage of the resources I need to overcome a genuine significant struggle is incredibly upsetting.
Thankfully, I have become very good at advocating for myself and my needs in the classroom. But before I developed the confidence to stand up for myself, there were teachers who completely blew me off. Some called me a distraction to the rest of the class and some said it wasn’t fair to give me “special treatment.” Freshman year, one teacher even blatantly denied me my university mandated accommodations and I was felt too embarrassed and ashamed to fight back.
So what makes me so angry about this whole college admissions scheme is that the kind of people involved in it are the reason that teachers don’t always take me seriously. They are why a teacher once told me that I was “obviously trying to take advantage of the system” so his goal would be “to accommodate me as little as possible.”
It is important for the world to understand that learning disabilities are a huge burden for those who really suffer from them. They are not a sneaky way to get extra time on tests or use of a laptop in class. They are the only way to level the playing field so that I can thrive alongside my peers.
This scandal is unfortunate, frustrating and disappointing. But I hope it creates an opportunity for dialogue on these issues so that people can better understand how hard a learning disability really is.
Has anyone ever questioned your learning disability? Let me know in the comments or send me an email.
At first, I was skeptical of all the CBD hype. I kept reading about how it had healed a variety of physical and mental ailments but I figured it was too good to be true. Then I tried American Shaman’s Water Soluble Oil and the results honestly blew me away.
A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling distracted, unproductive and didn’t even want to get out of bed. I took a walk hoping that would help me reset but I still felt just as out of it when I got home. With nothing left to try, I decided to drink a little bit of the American Shaman Water-Soluble Oil sample I had bought on a whim a while ago.
I can honestly say that the CBD oil turned my entire day turned around. I suddenly felt motivated and focused. I cleaned my whole room, wrote a blog post and finished my homework. My mood was elevated. My anxiety improved. I felt infinitely better than I had just hours before. I was so blown away that I actually called both of my parents to tell them how excited I was about this new product. Over the last few weeks, I’ve continued to drink the Water Soluble Oil each morning and it’s been obvious that it still makes a huge difference in my day whenever I use it. While I definitely cannot recommend CBD on a medical level, I can certainly say it has begun to make a huge positive difference in my mood, my anxiety and my ADHD.
This is why I am so tremendously excited to announce that I am partnering with American Shaman to help you all get the CBD I have found so valuable! And the Water Soluble Oil isn’t their only product I love. I’ve started using their Hydrating Body Lotion and Lip Revitalizer too. I particularly love the lotion because it makes my skin feel unbelievably soft but also helps relieve some of the aches and pains in my muscles. The texture isn’t greasy like many other CBD lotions and it has a lovely, calming lavender smell. The Lip Revitalizer has also been a lifesaver for my chapped lips because I’ve found that the CBD makes it extra hydrating and it’s not full of fake chemicals and fragrances like many other chapsticks. Everything American Shaman makes is organic, non-GMO and lab-tested to ensure everything is safe and high-quality.
I am partnering with American Shaman because their products — especially the Water Soluble Oil — have genuinely made a huge positive impact on my mental health and I hope they can help you all too.
Head to AMERICAN SHAMAN’S WEBSITE and use my discount code SS10 for 10% off your order!
Lately I’ve noticed that I feel more and more addicted to my phone every day. I deleted the Facebook app a long time ago because it felt like a time suck and that helped me detach from my phone for a while. But now, I’ll find myself scrolling through Instagram for far too long, closing out of it and almost compulsively, unconsciously opening it again a few minutes later without even realizing what I’ve done.
Sometimes ADD can come with an addictive personality, but I think many of us struggle with an uncontrollable fixation on our apps.
But the last time I updated my phone, I found a new screen time function that measured how much time I spent on my phone per day. And the results were frightening.
It reports that in the last seven days, I’ve spent an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes on my phone per day. In the moment, I never really feel like I could have spent that much time texting, scrolling through Instagram or checking the news. But it seriously adds up. And the even scarier figure is that over the past week I have spent a cumulative 18 hours and 42 minutes on my phone. Just writing that horrifies me when I think of all the actually constructive things I could be doing with 18 whole hours.
So I have a few goals for this next week to cut down my phone time and I would love it if you would join me!
- Turn my phone off or put it far away from my bed before I go to sleep.
- Limit my Instagram use to 20 minutes a day (the screen time functions lets you set limits for each app!)
- Limit my time on news apps to 15 minutes a day. It all depresses me anyway.
- Try to only open my phone when I have received a message, not just to compulsively swipe around.
- Lastly, when I feel the need to scroll through my phone for no reason, I will try to fill that time with better things like going for a walk, writing a song, cooking or journaling.
How do you detach from your phone? Let me know in the comments!
I wrote about the incredible impact “The Healing Self” had on me several weeks ago. But recently, feeling particularly disconnected with my health, I decided to pick it up again to remind myself of what it taught me. I wanted to share one lesson in particular with all of you today because I really do think it is a simple game-changer. Those of us with ADD tend to procrastinate, so little tasks that shouldn’t be problematic grow until we are insanely overwhelmed. This passage from the book is a solution to that:
“To stay in the present moment, don’t let small demands pile up. Immediately take care of anything that takes five minutes or less. If you make this a habit, your time management will improve, sometimes dramatically, and you won’t get to the end of the day complaining that you didn’t have enough time to do everything you needed to” (The Healing Self, 41).
I will admit to being particularly bad at this by nature. When I get a bill, sometimes it gives me so much anxiety that I don’t deal with it for several days or even right up until the due date. This obviously creates even more stress.
The same principle applies to daily tasks like keeping my room clean. The longer I put off folding a few things, the bigger the pile gets, until my room is a total disaster zone that keeps me distracted all day. If I take the few minutes to put away my clothes immediately, it saves me so much trouble later.
So try adding in this five minute rule this week and leave a comment if it helps you!