Creative Review

I spent a little time yesterday evening doing a creative review of 2023 from some prompts I found online.

I was expecting to feel a bit disconcerted or let down by my results but I felt exhilarated.

Because of my grief over the loss of my Dad, I felt like I had been haphazard with my creativity, working in bits and pieces but not really doing anything cohesive.

Actually, though, I taught lots of workshops and made zines and took workshops and experimented with using fabric in my art.

That means that despite my difficulties, I kept turning to my creativity to remind myself of who I am and what I need.

I’m really proud of myself for that.

On Trying To Figure Out A Bad Day

Yesterday was a hard day.

I don’t know if it was the fact that I had slept poorly or the fact that the weather was so grey or the fact that so many of my planned tasks were irksome, but I couldn’t make my brain get things started.

None of my usual get-going techniques worked and I got more and more frustrated.

And it was hard to know whether to try to push myself harder or to find ways to rest and take it easy.

You see, the thing about ADHD is that I can’t always trust signals from my brain.

My lack of enthusiasm for the day might be a sign that I needed more rest or it might be a sign that there was some part of one of my tasks was off-putting to my brain and so it had put the brakes on all my tasks to avoid that one thing.

That makes it very difficult to glibly choose to rest because even though, in general, it’s good to rest it might be the opposite of what I need. And, in fact, resting might make things worse because then the task I don’t even realize I am avoiding is going to seem even more daunting when I return to it.

But if I push myself and it turns out that I do need to rest then I will be even more fatigued and miserable.

And, of course, all of this thinking means I’m going to end up overthinking and over-monitoring what my brain is doing (which is a path to misery in itself.)

So, it always seems like there is no good approach to a bad day and that, in itself, adds to my frustration.

Yesterday, I just tried to take it piece by piece.

I jettisoned anything I could.

I did some reading and some drawing.

I did a little exercise.

I tried to do some work.

I took the dog for a walk.

I made supper.

I met a friend for tea.

I went to bed relatively early.

Today, I feel a lot better so I guess yesterday’s non-plan worked ok.

My brain is a pretzel

Last night I was sneezing a bit and felt stuffed up.

This morning my throat is gravelly.

I didn’t sleep well so I feel a bit groggy.

I kind of want to go back to bed but I have a few non-negotiable things to do this morning.

And this is where my brain gets pretzelly.

What’s really going on here?

Am I having an allergic reaction to something blooming now?

Did my allergies keep me from sleeping well?

Are those two things combining with my general tiredness from yesterday and making me feel unwell?

Am I feeling sniffly and gravelly because I didn’t sleep well?

Or…

Am I coming down with a cold and yesterday’s tiredness was the harbinger?

Or…

Do I have the plague?

I know that, ideally, I would treat all of these things the same way – lots of rest, have lots of water, take it easy – but that’s probably not going to happen.

If I am just sleepy and allergy-ridden, I’ll probably feel better by getting a few things done, by getting my brain in gear.

If I have the plague, I should stay home. (I really don’t think I have the plague, by the way.)

If I have a cold, I can do a few things but I should mostly rest.

One part of me doesn’t want do very much, just in case a chance to nap presents itself. After all, wouldn’t want to be too awake to fall asleep easily.

Another part wants to dive into things, either to see if the feeling passes or to get them out of the way in case I feel worse later.

I know I have to pick something and do it but my brain just seems to want to stay as a pretzel, getting more and more tangled in what if.

Sometimes, I am not sure my brain and I are on the same side.

Learning to find more fun in the middle of things

It’s always hard to tell if my approach to things come from ADHD or just my personality.

On the one hand, it doesn’t really matter one way or another, I have to approach things the way I approach them at least until I find a different way that I like better.

But, on the other hand, if my approach frustrates me, it would be useful to know whether it is ADHD or just some habit I picked up along the way or some habit I developed as an adaptation to living with ADHD.

Take for example my approach to getting yard work done today.

I know that my reluctance to get started is due to ADHD so I have developed some workarounds for that – setting clearly defined small tasks that I can quickly check off my list. My brain still resists but I have a fair bit of evidence that this does actually work so most of the time I can coax myself to do the thing.

And I know that my reluctance to stop once I get started is an ADHD thing, a kind of task hyper focus that just wants me to get it the end so I can *really* be done not “just” done for today.

But how about my challenges with ongoing or longer term projects like house or yard maintenance?

Today, for example, I am outside cleaning the yard – raking, getting rid of lawn debris, picking up litter than has blown into my yard.

I can see that my fence and my deck need to be painted and that I should clean up a few things and that the shed needs to be excavated (it’s a way bigger job than just cleaning) and the windows need their trim painted and…you get the idea.

Luckily, my medication lets me know that this isn’t a ‘do a weekend of house repair and you’ll be all set’ kind of thing. (Yes, at one point, my brain would try to convince me of that.)

But I am still left with the feeling that I should try to do all of that stuff as soon as possible and THEN I can relax in the yard.

Simultaneously, I’m also thinking that the weather here is so unpredictable that it would be better to spend the nice days relaxing – that other work will get down when it gets done.

BUT!

I know that unless I make a clear plan about when and how to do something my brain will continuously tell me that it is too much work to get done right now, that I had better leave it until the not now.

So, that can really leave me in a tangle.

It’s hard to get started so I have to make the tasks “worth it” for the energy it takes to get going but I have to plan well enough so I don’t wear myself out trying to do everything at once.

I have to ensure that I don’t leave things too long but I also don’t want to miss out on the best days of summer while I trudge though the house and yard work.

So I am trying to find something in between.

I’m trying to figure out how to plan out my tasks over weekdays and weekends – allowing for weather – while including fun and relaxation in those very same days.

I’m trying NOT to get stuck in ‘Do your work before it slips your mind and have your fun after.’

And I’m trying to avoid ‘You’ll be able to REALLY relax if you get everything done.’

I’m trying to learn how to have more fun in the middle of projects without just ignoring the project altogether.

Let’s see how this goes. 😉

Decisions, decisions – a good problem to have ;)

This is the kind of evening I dream of when I feel tense or when it feels like the winter will never end.

I’m sitting on my patio on a warm summer night, deciding whether to draw or to read while I drink my (non-alcoholic!) beer.

A photo of a table with a bottle, an ereader and a sketchbook and markers on it.
Image description: a angled-down view of a small red patio table with a bottle of Corona Sunbrew non-alcoholic beer (which is covered in condensation), an e-reader in a blue and gold patterned case, and an open sketchbook with six markers on top of it. In the background there’s another patio chair, the bottom of the railing, and the end of a string of warm white lights.