Since a couple of weeks back, I’m off my ADHD meds. It’s not because they didn’t work, but because of side effects and a complicating condition. Before I quit taking them I had started to think that maybe they don’t do any good, maybe I don’t even have ADHD. Well, let me put it like this: They did work. I do have a problem with executive dysfunction. I really hope that I’ll be able to start taking them again but I don’t know how things are going to turn out or how many months it will take before I can start again, if I ever can. In the meantime, I need to cope with executive dysfunction more actively than I’m used to and therefore I’ll start to unpack what executive dysfunction means to me.
One of the things that hit me really hard when I went off my meds is how overwhelmed I get from any kind of demand. It’s not only that it’s way harder to come to a point of focus and start working on a task, the problem is just as much how it feels before I’ve reached that point. Before I actually can start to do something, I need to organize my messy thoughts and my lack of context. Considering the fact that I’m literally thinking of around 8-12 different things at the same time, this is a big task. I forget what I’m thinking about and I have to work myself up to try to grasp it again. When I finally reach the point of knowing what I’m about to do, why, how important it is and how I’m going to do it, I’m exhausted. Since there’s no spoons left to actually do the task, I tend to panic.
I have strategies and tools to make this easier, like task lists that are organized to give me information about priority, why and how I should do different tasks. It helps a lot and I’m very happy that I’ve spent so much time on improving this way of working. It helps me further to acknowledge that this orientating process doesn’t happen automatically to me, that I need to take this into account when I try to balance activity and recovery. However, it doesn’t make the executive dysfunction go away. Also, it doesn’t heal the wounds from all the times people have accused me of being unmotivated or avoiding demands. Needing to spend so much energy on just orientating myself enough to know what to do and how to do it is a big source of fatigue that most people who don’t have the same experience won’t understand, and that’s very painful.
No matter if I can start my ADHD meds again or not, I need to cope with the grief of being so misunderstood for thirty years, because now I’m reminded of it every day, several times a day. I still don’t know how, but I guess I’ll figure that out.