It's all too much, I can't keep up I don't understand how others cope with the never ending avalanche of ever increasing daily tasks Feels like I've been gasping for air since the beginning of autumn how can I rest while treading water I can't keep my head up any longer Add on the guilt of ultimately knowing that my life is so good compared to many ashamed of being so terribly ungrateful terrified of what will happen if it gets worse I wish I could step outside of space and time for just a second to scream and cry release this nervous tension that is always growing, eating me alive
One of my favorite things to watch online are lifestyle vloggers. But it can be hard to find a good pool of content, given I am only interested in the vegan ones. Even so, I never get tired of watching them. There is just something so immensely soothing about watching the picture perfect life of someone else. It feels inspiring and motivational, but also comforting, as if I’m spending time with a close friend.
There homes are always so bright and beautiful. There plants are all huge and healthy. White linen, candles, big open windows, picnics, fresh healthy food, and tender moments between partners. It all just makes me want to sigh and keep watching forever. To lose myself in this postcard existence of another. Until… it starts to become overwhelming.
There is a certain point I always reach, where I just start comparing my life to theirs’ and feeling bad about myself. Strangely enough, it usually isn’t because of the aesthetic differences. I’ve never cared much for having money or an extravagantly decorated home. My crumbly little cave is quite good enough for me. (Although, I do wish I had the time and energy to keep it spotless like them.) No, what really starts to make me feel down is their seemingly superior ability to maintain a productive work schedule, to work for themselves, edit and upload videos, and make progress towards their career goals.
One of the most frustrating parts for me is the confusion. Why can’t I do that too? It’s not like I am unable to keep routines or stick to a schedule. My routines and schedules just happen to not be very useful or productive in the long run. All of my hobbies and habits are small and focused on the moment. It is unimaginable for me to set big, long-term goals for myself that I can work towards incrementally in those same hours I allot to more frivolous pursuits consistently.
It’s partly about not knowing where to even begin setting up something like that, but it’s also my fear of commitment to any one interest. If I do something that can be completed in an hour or two, I have a reasonable expectation that I’ll be able to maintain interest. However, if I begin a project that will take a month, or a year, I am second guessing myself the whole time. Is this really worthwhile to me? Will I be able to make it to the end result? What if I lose my drive and I’ve ended up wasting a huge chunk of my life on something that was never even finished? With me, losing that initial motivation and interest just seems inevitable. It feels pointless to even begin.
The more I learn about myself and my mental health, the more I think this has less to do with personal failures and more to do with ADHD. Still, that doesn’t make me feel much better or less frustrated. Am I really just incapable of completing big projects and reaching more lofty goals? It sure feels like that’s the case. Maybe if I keep trying and allow myself to fail, I’ll learn more about myself and be able to find a way that works for me eventually.
Until then, I’m just going to keep gaining that feeling of fulfillment and contentment vicariously through watching others live their best lives. Sometimes it feels like that’s all I’ll ever be able to do. But either way, I’m grateful for their content and the warm, fuzzy, inspired feelings they give me.
The Search for Novelty
In my endless, possibly misguided quest, to diagnose my own mental ailments, I’ve now stumbled into the realm of ADHD Pinterest. Although it’s difficult to distinguish between autism and ADHD symptoms because many are so similar and often these two overlap or co-occur. As it stands right now, I honestly think I have both. If I could afford it or even had access to a mental evaluation I’d love to have one done. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with internet memes to diagnose myself with for the time being.
Anyway, my newfound knowledge about ADHD has helped me realize my brain’s need for novelty. I can be completely engrossed in a new hobby or interest at first. I could spent every hour of every day learning about it or practicing it, but then without fail, I lose all interest after the initial magic of the “shiny new toy” wears off. This used to cause me a considerable amount of distress. I felt like a failure, unable to stick with anything for any significant amount of time. I would avoid committing to things even if I was obsessed because I knew that feeling would inevitably wear off and I would abandon whatever project or goal I had set. Then I would spent months feeling anxious and guilty about quitting.
Now that I know doing new things, or doing old things in a new and interesting way is what keeps me focused, I have a better chance of keeping myself happy and engaged in the tasks I want to perform or the goals I set for myself. It’s no easy feat to come up with ways to keep changing up my routine though. My autistic traits make me crave consistency, which is at odds with the need for novelty. I get very anxious at the idea of changing up a habit, even once it has become tedious and unpleasant. It takes a lot of mental effort to think of how I can alter my routines in a way that is small enough so it doesn’t overwhelm me with anxiety, but big enough to help me maintain interest.
So far, I’ve only seemed to make progress with this in the realm of my physical fitness. After over a decade of working out, I can get really frustrated and bored doing the same things every day, even if they are always a somewhat different HIIT workout. The one thing that I’ve found to help me stay motivated and excited to workout is having a clear goal in mind. Now before this, while my workouts would change periodically, my goal was always the same: lose weight and/or build muscle. These goals were far too vague and also, for me personally, deeply frustrating and unsatisfying as no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to do either of them to any noticeable degree.
If you’re someone like me who may have ADHD and/or someone who just has trouble staying interested in a regular workout routine, I would suggest picking a goal more fun and specific than losing weight. Something that you can measure without risking tipping over the edge into unhealthy body image and eating habits as I have in the past. Lately when I workout, I try to work towards gaining a new ability through my physical fitness journey. For instance, I want to be able to do a handstand one day in my yoga practice. There are a plethora of exercises I can incorporate into my workouts to build up the necessary strength and balance to achieve that. Doing a handstand is a goal that is fun and feels worthwhile for it’s own sake.
Another goal I’ve had since I found out about the exercise, is being able to do a pistol squat. Essentially this is lowering down into an extremely deep, low squat with only one leg, then raising yourself back up into a standing position. I really never thought I would be able to do that, but for a few months, I’ve added in a lot of pistol squat prep exercises into my weekly leg workout. Today, I am proud to say, I managed to do three sets of six reps of pistol squats on each leg! I was so overwhelmed with happiness. It’s the first time I’ve had that much fun in my morning workout for awhile. They may not have been perfect, but I can’t wait to get better and better at them.
At least as far as physical fitness goes, this strategy seems able to provide an endless supply of novelty. I can keep building on my physical ability more and more over time. Once I’m able to hold a handstand with a wall behind me in case I fall, I’ll work on doing it without a wall, then I’ll work on lifting up into a handstand, then handstand pushups, then handstand to crow pose, etc. I can’t wait to see what this body of mine may be capable of one day. Now if I can only find a way to implement this same principle of finding consistent novelty into my other passions and pursuits. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggests or if you struggle with this quest for novelty as well.
Do I want a diagnosis? I still can't decide would it be soothing to have a name for my shortcomings? Part of me would be relieved to know I'm not just a failure that my inner struggles are more than just imaginary that they have medical substance It might be a comfort to know my distraction and distress my lack of tolerance for frustration in any form are not merely personal faults But what if a definitive label would be something I would use as an excuse to clip my own wings in yet another new way a limit to my possible potential It might reinforce my self-doubt assure me that I'm inherently limited in my creative and cognitive abilities a dark stain on the one part of me I've always felt proud of The older I get, the less sure I am that this brain is something superior the intellect of the collective world moves forward as it gets tangled inside it's own inner alleyways unable to keep pace with progress If I'm not the smartest person in the room I'm not sure who I am at all left doubting the one thing that made me feel safe in myself unable to trust even that
A mind too scattered to stay connected thoughts that vibrate like hummingbird wings creating a blur that obscures all focus attention divided between two thousand threads spreading thin spiderwebs over my consciousness catching dewdrops that glisten and reflect a mind full of mirrors creating intricate illusions impossible to untangle and examine up close awareness as a run-on sentence pondering without punctuation perpetual engine of possibilities leaving my heart pounding an old TV set with only two options solid black screen or sizzling static
I think most people my age have had some experience with Adderall. I knew a lot of people in college that would take it to help them study for exams. I was never interested in that though. I didn’t even study for exams. I would just glance at my notes the night before and then ace the test easily the next day. I was always lucky that way when it came to school.
I have tried Adderall a handful of times however. It is truly a miraculous drug. I always explain it to people like this: Adderall makes me the person that I’ve always wished I could be. I feel engaged, excited, and energized about whatever I choose to set my mind to. I don’t get distracted by my anxious thoughts, hunger, or boredom. Plus my overall mood is elevated. It is almost like a chemically induced state of flow. Where you lose track of time because you are so engrossed in enjoying what you’re doing.
I have often contemplated trying to get myself a prescription. But I’m always too afraid of the embarrassment of looking like a drug addict if I were to be refused. Which is quite likely. Then again, that’s probably for the best as I don’t need to become dependent on another substance.
I’ve been lucky enough be be given a pill or two every now and then from generous friends. This exact thing happened yesterday in fact. Now I am trying to strategically plan my day off today so I am able to use it to get as much accomplished as possible. It would be so nice if I could somehow have maybe one or two a week so I could use them to overcome my anxiety long enough to do all the things I want to get done. It always puts me in such an amazing head space. It is a shame how infrequent I am able to enjoy that.