I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. Exhausted from a life lived masking ADHD, exhausted from living through a pandemic with politicians who DGAF about the ‘little people’, exhausted from war and messages of war, exhausted from the effects of age, exhausted from a year of therapy that has had me questioning everything I thought I knew about myself and my life (in a good way, but still absolutely knackering), exhausted from juggling the need to live my life and the urge to sleep, from living with chronic health conditions that leave me reeling.
I read something from a grief expert about how we often feel the impact of bad news even when it doesn’t affect us personally. The tragedies which have unfolded in America, the catastrophe of war in Ukraine (though this does have the impact of rising costs of living via the shortage of basic foods), the truly devastating way our politicians here in the UK have been lying to us all through the covid lockdowns and restrictions. Ugh, it’s no wonder I’m completely and utterly wiped out.
Today I’ve been reflecting a bit on having ADHD and what impact that has had on me in my 47 years. 15 years ago I was a busy person, I wore many hats and slid from one to the other with ease. It is tempting to look back at those days as halcyon, in many ways they were! I loved being involved with all the different parts of my life from family to work to church to choir to youth group. I even took on the baking for a local coffee shop for a year, getting up in the early hours of the morning to bake, creating three tiered confections in chocolate, carrot and coffee every week. I feel even more tired just thinking about it! It’s no surprise really that I burned out. Even so, the first time seemed to come from nowhere; I was astonished to find that my energy was not limitless, that my brain could not keep juggling all these different responsibilities and still remember to breathe.
I baked 3 cakes a week for over a year but this is the only photo I’ve got to show for it!
I liken the next few years to being a stone skimming across a flat surface – I dipped down, bounced back, dipped down, bounced back, before finally sinking under the weight of everything. These days I often feel like I’m looking up from the bottom of that pond, trying to figure out how to get back to the surface.
But there are also days when I feel like I’m adjusting to aquatic life, not so much longing to be back where I was as creating a life which accepts the current limitations and makes something of it.
If you resonate with this then perhaps you’ll be wondering how to make this work. I have a really simple solution, well simple to write or read, perhaps more complicated in actual fact:
be kind to yourself
That’s it. That’s the grand plan.
Including (but not limited to):
- speak kindly about yourself – e.g. instead of ‘what happened to me? I used to be XYZ’ try ‘Life has moved on and I am doing well right now’ (by the way, it takes time to change our internal critical voice. So we’re bound to still think the negative thought at first, but if we counter it with something kinder each time then we’ll begin to feel the change)
- do what your body is telling you to do – sleep when you need to, walk or exercise whenever is best for you, try to find something other than food to give you that dopamine hit (that’s not just me, I know!)
- forgive yourself – let go of anything you’re beating yourself up over and if those thoughts are difficult to get rid of then try replacing them e.g. if you find yourself thinking ‘why do I keep making the same mistakes?’ then try responding with ‘I am still learning about myself, next time it will be different’
- take your time off – even if you are self-employed, even if you are a parent, even if you are the leader of your organisation, even if you are the only youth worker, even if you are all of the above! Time off is ESSENTIAL to our well-being; it is also a very practical way to be kind to ourselves. Plan to do things you enjoy, and even if you can only snatch an hour of childfree time, take it and do something that is being kind to yourself!
- write about it – getting thoughts out of your head and onto the page is a really helpful way of acknowledging and removing some of the power they can have whilst just in our heads.
I tried to write something else today, but this is what was begging to be written. So, I’m being kind to myself.
Let me know if there’s anything else you would add to this list!
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