If you’ve just been diagnosed, you might be really tired from trying to hot-wire a compromised attention span with various shortcuts, quick fixes, and strange remedies.
Me? I used coffee, sugar, more coffee, tons of exercise, a standing desk, distance running, yoga, mid-day showers, martial arts, weightlifting, cigarettes, chewing my fingernails to the point where I was hospitalized with acute paronychia, and a raft of other hacks to rivet myself to the task at hand. Boy did that suck.
No one who’s ever met me would say “That guy lacks energy.” They would say “You seem hyper,” to my face. Or they would say to a colleague “That guy is too intense!” I never once considered that the things I did to compensate for my struggles in controlling my attention were not just ineffective but counter-productive.
By the time I was most recently diagnosed, I had become accustomed to being mentally exhausted all the time – partly from worrying about my unreliable performance, and partly from constantly being stressed out about being unable to focus, being surprised by deadlines, side-swiped by misinterpreted signals from others, panic from bad reviews at work, and financial stress caused by my underwhelming performance.
So if you’ve just been told you have ADHD, take a moment to consider whether you need to get some rest. In the short term, can you take a few days off? Can you arrange to take a nap or three?
More long term, take a few minutes to do an inventory of your sleep hygiene. Are you making sure you get enough sleep every night? This is no longer a nice to have. It’s an ingredient your brain cannot do without. And having ADHD makes it likely that you’ve been doing it all wrong for a while.
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