My dearest reader, you may have noticed by now that I have issues with organization, procrastination, and all the other “-ations” that pop up.
My ADD/ADHD has manifested in ways that are both maddening and perplexing but always frustrating when I live my life by constant deadlines.
On a normal day, I’m stress-zooming my way through a myriad of tasks that I pushed to the last minute, creating a collision-course of doom that requires the mental dexterity of someone far more skilled than me and yet, I do this to myself routinely.
I’ve tried to change this pattern — good lord, how I’ve tried — but my pesky neurodivergence wins a lot of the time.
Executive dysfunction is the main antagonist in the story of me. I desperately want to make headway in my to-do list but when I get overwhelmed, paralysis sets in and I stare out the window, locked in misery, until something happens to magically set me free. I wish I were joking. Sometimes I’ve sat in my closet, too. Waiting for the click that will set my body in motion and I can scramble to fix the mess that’s slowly been accumulating in my life.
With that said, I’m always actively seeking ways to help navigate the dumpster fire in my head because I’m not the kind of person who gives up even in the face of total failure.
Call it tenacity — or a special brand of insanity — but it is me in all my messy glory.
Since my late-stage discovery of ADD/ADHD, I’ve since been able to make sense of some of my oddest quirks and while the information is comforting (Hallelujah! I’m not alone!) I’ve yet to make headway on some of my more challenging obstacles.
Now, as I mentioned, this is everything I deal with on a normal day.
Add the crazy of Christmas and I might as well curl in a ball and disappear until the holidays are over because my sensory overload is at its zenith.
I also have back-to-back books due and my brain HATES that kind of pressure so the brilliant words that may have existed at some point, disappear like mist beneath the hot sun and I’m left with nothing but a blank page.
And nothing terrifies a writer on a deadline more than the stark white of a blank page and the accusatory blink of an awaiting cursor.
But I digress.
Back to the holiday stuff.
I love Christmas. I host the family on Christmas day. I bake a Christmas casserole. I am most joyful when watching the kids open their presents.
And yet, Christmas introduces a whole new level of panic and disorganization to my life. First, I make lists to help myself remember what I’ve bought and for who but I take terrible notes and they end up looking like this: Kid #1, clothes.
And I can’t remember what kid, what clothes, and I’m not sure if I bought the right size.
So I make another purchase and end up double buying for one kid and completely forget another.
Lists seem helpful but when your brain is like mine, sometimes, it’s just more work. (Also, I lose lists, make partial lists, then make another list for the other list I lost, and there’s a vague memory of the list I made but can’t find so I end up thinking a lot about the list that almost was … you get the picture.)
What’s the answer? If I knew, I wouldn’t be in this mess so don’t look to me for solutions. I can talk to you at length about deep characterization, a three-act structure, and how to spend hours selecting a character name but I couldn’t tell you how to remember to buy milk for your family.
It is what it is.
If you see me out and about, know these essential truths:
1). Yes, I have a book due and I’m probably already behind.
2). Yes, I’ve already lost, recovered, recreated, and lost again every list I started out with that day.
3). Yes, I’m overshooting my holiday budget by a mile and I’m still worried that someone will feel left out.
Because the reality is, the illusion of grand plans — and their glorious completion — will sucker me in every time.
Godspeed my fellow neurodivergents! May you sally forth into this holiday season with unfettered hope and enough caffeine to keep you focused.
Also, don’t forget the milk.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.