Putting Myself First with ADHD

Putting Myself First with ADHD

I had a crazy idea today: what if, in 2022, I actually made the conscientious choice to put myself first? Eat well, move a little more, make time for wellness… BEFORE I do anything else?

Actual thoughts that bump around in my head at this thought:

  • Wait… Won’t I get fired?
  • I’m really, really bad at that.
  • What if I forget to feed my dogs?
  • What if I regress to my totally dysfunctional teenaged-self?
  • What does it actually mean to put myself first?

The last question prompted this blog post. I realize that I don’t actually know how to put my wellness first.

Why? This is largely because what I enjoy doing and what I *should* do to take care of myself are largely in opposition of each other.

Throw in a heaping helping of unmedicated ADHD + time blindness, and the idea of actually trying to accomplish all the things that nourish my body, mind, and soul while also holding a full-time job terrifies me.

It doesn’t help that this is my daily lived experience.

Why Putting Myself First Makes Me Nervous

The last time I remember (unintentionally) putting myself first, I was probably in high school; I was an intuitive eater, eating when I was hungry, stopping when I was full, and my father helped to make sure I had at least two vegetables on my plate during at least two meals. I walked a lot and didn’t miss a lot of opportunities to climb trees. I was in incredible shape. I was getting as much sleep as I wanted and an expert at responding to what I needed to feel okay.

I was also failing most classes in school because I chose to stay awake until I got tired (usually around 3 a.m.), spending my free time designing websites, skipping class to catch up on sleep in a little-used basement hallway, and generally failing to complete any amount of homework.

I was happy, I was healthy, and I was failing… though, real talk, doing what I wanted at the expense of my grades also meant I was fabulous with WordPress, which directly led to my current career, so. Perhaps there is something to that. (except, bills)

I used to believe that self-care meant doing whatever I felt like I needed whenever I felt like I needed it. This is simply not true when you have ADHD. As I’ve discovered during the pandemic, this generally results in a lot of Netflix binge-watching and endless Reddit scrolling. In high school, it meant a lot of reading and avoidance of the harder but necessary stuff in life.

What Putting Myself First Actually Means

There are several realms of wellness that I have been long-neglecting. I’m not entirely a heathen, however. I still eat vegetables, prepare nourishing meals, and write down three daily gratitudes more often than not. However, I’d like to focus on the less-than-fun parts of wellness that I’ve allowed to drop off–and see what happens.

My neglected wellness realms:

Physical Wellness

  • Movement: I have a desk job, and while I schedule dog walks I deliberately take, I am stiff and sore… a lot. I need to move my body in different ways. Deliberately.
  • Hydration: Drink more water and less wine: is it even possible to drink a gallon a day consistently?
  • Multivitamins: I’ve stopped taking my multivitamins. I also know that I’m deficient in Vitamin D, and that my body requires a few additional supplements to help my thyroid do its thing.

Intellectual Wellness

  • Language Learning: I absolutely thrive when studying languages. I need to make time to study both ASL and French.
  • Reading: I’m not sure if during the height of the pandemic is what did this in, but I need to read more books. I haven’t had a lot of space… and with omnicron’s emergence, this might be a touch challenging. But it’s worth noting.
  • Writing: We are what we do; if I want to call myself a writer, I need to, you know, write.

I’m doing okay emotionally and spiritually, all things considered. Focusing on these two realms above may also help with those, however, especially my growing anxiety over the new COVID variant of concern.

What’s the Wellness Plan?

Love and desire for the good things in life may be infinite, but time is not. Saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to something else.

The hard part for me is saying “no” to the right things.

What will I say yes to–first?

What happens when I try to stick to a schedule.
  • Deliberate, daily movement. I will continue to say ‘yes’ to my scheduled breaks for dog walks, but I’m adding 15-30 minutes of deliberate exercise (yoga, HIIT, and bodyweight fitness) to start.
  • Multivitamins: This is an easy one to add back into my day. I will take a daily multivitamin, Vitamin D, Apple Cider Vinegar, and a brazil nut every day.
  • Water, not wine: My goal will be to drink a gallon of water a day. I will keep a gallon jug and a glass on my desk. And I will drink hot tea in the evenings instead of my nightly 1-3 glasses of wine.
  • Language Practice: ASL or French. 15-30 minutes a day. I’ll even make a space in my journal to write it down and keep track of my progress.
  • Daily Writing: Set a timer for 10 minutes a day. I can work on my book or use a daily prompt, but if I want to be a writer? I need to write. Simple as that.

How will I achieve this? Well… the plan is to do this stuff first. It’s not a schedule… just stuff I need to do before I get started on anything else for the day.

What will I put second?

  • Doom Scrolling. Gosh, I love a good Doom Scroll. Happy chemicals from working out should help with this impulse, however.
  • …Work. This seriously hurts me to type because I am very worried about missing out on random moments of productivity that I feel I have to seize to make sure I get my stuff done. However, I am lucky enough that my job is flexible — I may lose time in the evenings if I don’t get started the way that I need to. But, that’s just reality.
  • Social media conversations. This is tricky for me because it definitely falls under the realm of ‘social wellness’, which I’ve been excelling at–my friends live all over the world, and this is one way I connect with the vast majority of them. However, in the hierarchy of Things That Need Doing, this is one I need to put in a box until my new wellness habits + work life have been met.

Real talk, I have no idea how this will go. I am very, very worried that I simply won’t get started at work the way that I need to. However, Science tells me that if I take care of my physical wellness first, the intellectual one and focus for work will follow.

Let’s find out!

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