Executive Function, ADHD, and Analogies I Didn’t Think Through
giphy (2)Hey all you cool cats and kittens! You haven't binged Tiger King yet?!?!  GO!  I'll wait for 10 hours until you're done (see, I even allowed for loo breaks). 4f1ft2ib0qp41 Is your brain melting now?  Good.  Welcome to my world. Anyway, this isn't actually about TBCB (That Bitch Carole Baskins) - although I have just spotted a song with that title, which I am totally adding to the end of this post without listening to it, and then I'll listen and it'll be terrible. Uh, where was I?  Oh yeah, TBCB.  NO!  ADHD Lockdown Isshoos (picture that in big sparkly MySpace text) - one of a 334534613 part set. Today we are looking at Executive (dys)Function. I've mentioned previously that one of the best ways of getting ADHD to play nicely is to have routines.  All the routines.  Ok, probably just one routine is best, but I need at least 3 on the go to make sure that it is the right routine... this may be where I am going wrong... anyway... Lockdown has taken our routines and thrown them away.  Even if we didn't really like going out much anyway, we have now been told we can't so we are reacting like a toddler who can't have the blue bowl even though they have only ever wanted the orange bowl. So now we are at home.  We have a gazillion things to do.  Some for work, some for home, some for pleasure.  What are we actually doing?  Scrolling through Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/TikTok (I've avoided the pull of the last one so far). Why?  Why, when for the first time in our adult lives we have been given all the time in the world, are we frozen? This, my friends, is due to a delightful issue that we have with Executive Functioning. "What is Executive Functioning?" I hear you ask. You know all the things that go into doing The Thing?  You make plans, you juggle a few things at once, you remember all the steps, you remember you were doing The Thing... Yeah, with ADHD, pretty much all of those things are an issue. Normally, our routines help some of those stages happen.  The making plans stage is often done for us - we have to be at work at set times, we have to go to class at set times, homework is due on set dates and there are regular interactions with people and places that flash a little light in our heads to remind us that homework being due is a thing. It's like being in a swimming pool and needing to collect balls, but they are all just down one lane, so you swim forwards and grab them as you go.  You occasionally drop them, but mostly it's cool. Losing the routine has taken away the lane, and added about three times as many balls.  You're in the middle of the pool.  There are so many balls everywhere.  Where do you start?!?!?!  For a lot of us, it is here that we are stopping.  There are just too many balls, it is overwhelming, so we freeze. OR, we prioritise the balls in our minds.  For me I have pink uni work balls, blue housework balls, yellow children balls, purple pleasure balls (and yes, I am totally regretting this analogy having types both blue balls and pleasure balls *childish snigger*).  I know that I need to collect the uni balls first, but they are far over to the sides.  Maybe I should gather the blue ones on the way to the pink ones?  But that will take up more time which I then don't have for the pink ones.... the yellow balls will be ok floating by themselves for a bit, but what if they sink when I am focused on the others? What about the purple balls and self care stuff???  So once again, frozen. Or, we have come up with a ball gathering system, but we then lose track partway through.  Or we forget one that was essential to collecting another one... Every obstacle convinces us that failure is imminent, so we just sit in front of it and go nowhere.  I'm sure Jessica on HowToADHD on YouTube has a far more concise explanation. But, knowing why we are frozen doesn't fix the issue.  How can we fix it? For me, it need to be a game in some ways, it needs set boundaries, and I need to treat myself how I am treating my 10yr old who has been tidying her bedroom for approximately 2343463135 ice ages - aka - look at one thing at a time. So, inspired by someone on a FB group, I have made a list. I have broken down tasks into small parts.  Housework tasks are 15 min max, and include things like "kitchen work surface" which means I do as much as I can on that thing for 15 minutes.  If I'm finished in 5, then good for me. Uni work tasks tend to be an hour so that I get a proper run at it.  Regular tasks are on the list multiple times. ALL TASKS ARE NUMBERED. Then the game aspect comes in - Random Number Generator. I spin for which task I am doing. I find myself being competitive with a timer, seeing how much I can get done. I get to cross off the list as I go, which always feels good. I get to move things off the reverse sticker chart of they are on there (if I haven't mentioned this, let me know and I'll go over it next time if I remember). It removes the aspect of thought and planning.  It is the bedroom tidying method of picking up one thing at a time, asking where it goes, and putting it there.  We can all do just one thing. I haven't got a set amount to do per day.  If my brain is up for it, then I can do lots.  If it isn't, then maybe I'll do one. At the moment it is just for pink and blue balls, but I may add in some of the other colours too - a block to watch an episode of Friday Night Dinner with the boy child, or a block to knit and watch Mrs Maisel.  As time goes on, I will see which things need more entries, and which fewer.  It is a work in progress, I can be creative with it.  All of those things make me enthusiastic to do them.  They give me a reward, they give me a direction, and they help to keep the executive function wheels spinning. Obviously, this is just what I have found to help me.  If you have things that are helping you break through the freeze, please let us know! Oh, and take your meds.  I have seen so many people online talking about coming off their meds because they aren't at work etc.  They don't just help with that though - they help with the emotions, they help with the extremes of mood, they help with remembering to clean your teeth.  ADHD doesn't just make you a bit ditsy at work, it runs through all of your body and life, and keeping on top of it will help so much more. As promised.... [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8HWacNE5rA&w=560&h=315]

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