A Thousand Tiny Crises

Jun. 26th, 2017

When something dramatic and tragic occurs, it seems to be human nature to rally around the victims. We all want to help, to give aid to those in distress and assist as they rebuild their lives. More than money and shares on Facebook though, it is instinctual and automatic to lend these fellow human beings our compassion. We completely understand that no one in such a dire situation will be able to follow through with mundane tasks for a while. This is completely natural.

What happens when the crisis is something smaller, yes less harmful, but still causing harm? And then another, and another. This is very often the reality of those living with undiagnosed and/or untreated ADHD. Because we did not naturally learn certain fundamental skills due to brain chemistry, our lives are a never-ending battle against a thousand tiny crises.

Nobody starts a crowdfunding campaign for you when you spend half an hour searching desperately for your car keys, only to find them inexplicably in the freezer. No one knows to bake a casserole when you forget to pay your electric bill and wake up to no power on a workday morning. There isn’t anything very dramatic about running out of clean underwear again right before a huge job interview.

These everyday crises pile up on us until we feel as though we are drowning under the weight of them. And that weight is only made worse by the fact that we “should” have known to prevent them. We also “should” be able to handle these common tragedies because they aren’t that big a deal, right?

Obviously I’d never compare a mass shooting or natural disaster to losing your keys. That would be insane and dismissive of the intense, large-scale suffering that accompanies those kinds of events.

What I do want to do is encourage everyone to acknowledge the devastating impact that small crises, especially when they accumulate, can have on us. Extend the same compassion toward ourselves that we extend to others. The psychological and physiological toll that chronic stress has on human beings is staggering. And when ADHD is thrown into the mix the guilt and shame we feel over our “failings” makes things even worse.

So what can we do?

When you are living in this miasma of reactivity and despair it can seem like there is no way out. How can you afford to spend time doing anything other than what you’re already working yourself to exhaustion to accomplish? That question leads only to a downward spiral into burnout.

Awareness and acknowledgment are vital elements for change. After that I, as a coach, would encourage anyone, ADHD or not, to look to their fundamental needs. Nutrition, hydration, sleep, fun, and physical health. Yes, fun is in there on purpose because I believe it is a need for all humanity. Start at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and work your way up.

If anyone is not able to reliably meet fundamental needs on their own, for any reason, then the task becomes about figuring out what and who is needed to assist in accomplishing it. This might be as simple as a smartphone app, as complex as a diagnosis and medication, or a complicated balance of both and many other elements.

The bottom line, for me, is that if someone isn’t functioning, then there is no use in repeating “I should be able to do this”. If nothing changes, nothing changes. And there will always be options open to those who choose to end the cycle and seek them out.

What everyday crisis has the biggest impact on you?