I am writing this story in the hopes of finding suggestions and solutions for myself as well as for others, as I am sure that there are many just like me, experiencing the same challenges.
I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 44. Since that time, I have implemented many tools and strategies to help me to thrive in a world built for the neuro-typical. I started taking medication two years ago. This along with some ADHD coaching helped me a lot. All was going well until 6 months ago, when my elderly father was diagnosed with cancer. This situation exacerbated his confusion and mild memory loss. What should have been a fairly uncomplicated course of treatment was fraught with complications; My dad and our family have been on a vicious roller-coaster ride, suspended in a constant state of 'wait-and-see.' While he has received excellent care, we wind our way through the rounds of doctor's appointments, tests, assessments and the sheer logistics of helping a parent to navigate 'the system.'
Since then, my ADHD symptoms have become worse.
I am far more distractible and irritable. I am beyond overwhelm, and feel caught like a deer in headlights by decision-fatigue. Even the simplest decisions can feel monumental.
I have always been sensitive to extraneous noise and cannot bear to hear more than one person talk at once. At times, I feel like it's Christmas Time In Whoville--that scene in which The Grinch plugs his ears saying "all the noise! noise! noise!" describes me.
I have no short-term memory now.
I've stopped using social media as I find it very overwhelming, and I have a lot of difficulty comprehending email messages--extracting important information from big, blocky paragraphs and following threads has become a challenge.
My friends have told me that I have 'conversational whiplash' and that at times it is hard to follow my conversation--can you imagine how difficult it would be for my father to follow my runaway train of thought?
Since my diagnosis, I have developed some strong coping strategies.
I have adopted a very healthy lifestyle, including a good diet, regular exercise and daily meditation. I use post-it notes, alarms, and various apps on my phone as external cues.
At work and at home, I have learned to make and use work-plans to help stay on track.
In one of my coaching sessions, I learned to 'externalize' my thoughts by writing them down or using a dictation program.
I try to combat the decision-fatigue by planning menus and organizing outfits for work on Sundays.
I have a space near my front door in which I leave the items I need to take with me--I won't forget them as I practically trip on them on the way out.
Additionally, I have used many of the strategies shared in "Focused Forward" and on podcasts. My Emotional Safe Place (and my means of getting to it) are a thing of beauty!
Many people think that I have it all under control--oh, if they only knew.
My family, friends and employer have all been incredibly supportive. I am truly grateful for that. I have always been very independent and do not want to impose my ADHD struggles on others--I know that it is my responsibility to do all that I can to get along in a big, messy, disruptive, noisy world.
I want to do my best, to help as much as I can, to do my fair share so that my father will be able to enjoy an excellent quality of life, with plenty of dignity and free of pain.
I'm sure that there are many 50-somethings out there with ADHD who are caring for elderly parents. I'm hoping that you can offer some coping strategies. I hope that by sharing my storm story will help others.
Again, thank you so much for all the good work that you do.