What do you do when it all falls apart?
I have had the worst two weeks in a long time. It was one thing after the other. Among the highlights: my hard drive crashed (fortunately it was backed up), I had a medical procedure that is not supposed to be painful but I was screaming into my hand because of the pain, I got bitten by a cat, and I ended up in the ER and have been recovering this week. I had to cancel a talk with no notice to the participants which makes me feel just horrible and embarrassed. It’s been one thing after the other for two weeks and, really, I’m ready for a change. What do you do when it all falls apart??
When the going gets tough…
I can tell you what heroes do in these situations: they work harder. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” said either Joseph Kennedy (the President’s pop) or football coach Knute Rockne.
But for those of us with ADHD (whether adults or kids), when the going gets tough, we want to hide. Am I right? Parents, you’ve seen your kids start to pick fights with you, throw tantrums, walk out on a conversation, or refuse to do anything. They’re hunkering down for a long stay in a safer world (their own brain). When the outside world gets unsafe, ADHD kids kick it away and parents get caught up in the fear (that looks like anger).
For adults, we start to doubt ourselves (like the kids) and we start self-medicating. We may hide under the covers, start eating pints of Ben and Jerry’s, take up smoking again, or try some “liquid courage” (which for most people is liquor, but for me is Starbucks coffee!) Negative thinking also becomes the norm and that, as we know, is a roller coaster without a brake.
Stop, Drop, and Roll
I have better advice. Instead of hiding or curling up into a fetal position, we can Stop, Drop, and Roll. Let me explain.
The whole “Stop, Drop and Roll” thing is what you do when your house is burning and you have to get out. That’s pretty much what’s going on when we feel overwhelmed: we feel like our world is burning down around us. The wrong thing to do is to charge headlong into the fire/the fear. The problem with that is that the fire/fear will most definitely overwhelm and injure us, despite our heroic efforts. So even though there are people telling you, when things get tough, to dive into your life head first and don’t look back, DON’T DO IT!
Instead, remember to STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
1. STOP doing whatever isn’t working. It doesn’t mean you’ll stop it forever (but it might). Maybe you just need to stop for a couple of days, maybe a couple of minutes, maybe a couple of years. You’ll figure that out. For now, just stop. When you’re overwhelmed, you can’t make good decisions so don’t try to, unless it’s literally a matter of life or death. When my hard drive crashed, with my life inside it, I just went on auto-pilot. I dropped everything and went to the Apple Store. First things first, after all.
2. DROP out of the line of fire and into some really good self care. You’re going to be dodging some “bullets” (like people giving you pep talks that don’t work, or people trying to guilt you into action, or people just generally telling you that you just need to focus!) Hunker down and start taking a good look at your health, both mental and physical. You don’t have to make any major decisions – in fact, you shouldn’t make any major decisions – but you do need to get some good help, even if it’s just getting a new lease on life from a trusted friend or colleague. Just don’t trying to figure it out on your own. That’s a set-up for disaster. Self Care, my friends. That’s the ticket. I suppose that some people in my position (being in the hospital for several hours) would have tried to run and say they’re okay. I just focused on getting better. Some people might push themselves to go back to work. I didn’t. I just focused on getting better. When I felt down in the dumps, I called people and said, “I’m lonely.” I took care of my needs even if it was slightly embarrassing to be weak.
3. ROLL with what’s going on at the moment. It won’t be forever even though it feels like it at times. Be the person you need to be in this moment. Don’t nag or indulge in negative thinking. Plan out some days that are easy to manage (or easier to manage) and give yourself a break. Accept what’s going on (which is called “REALITY” after all!) and, as I said in Step 2, know that you’re getting help and things will get better. But do get help. That’s key.
What do you think? Will this work for you? What do you do with the poo hits the fan?
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Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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