AD/HD women are experts at multi-tasking and caring for everyone else around them, but they often sacrifice their own needs for the needs of those they love. You know the scenario: you have a movie date with your girlfriend or sister, and your son or daughter comes home from school and announces a desperate need for your help (“Please, Mom!!”) with a big school project due tomorrow. What do you do? My experience, both personally and professionally, leads me to believe that the majority of us would call and cancel our anticipated girls’ night out.
Let’s face it, there’s no doubt about it — it’s difficult for most women with AD/HD to attend (no pun intended) to their own needs first and foremost. Stimuli from external sources do often have a stronger cognitive “voice” than the ones coming from internal sources. However, experience tells me we can acquire both a heightened awareness of our needs and with diligent practice, the capability to answer them.
For example, on a recent weekend I was reorganizing my office when I began to experience muscle spasms in my right shoulder. Instead of plodding ahead and ignoring the discomfort (as I once would have), I heeded its call and decided to reevaluate the task at hand because I know that when I’m overwhelmed the stress of it all settles in my shoulders. It has taken me some time, but I’ve learned to view this response as a signal to do something differently, instead of as an annoyance that was interfering with completing my office project.
Not wanting to abandon that altogether, though, I sat down and wrote a list of the specific tasks I needed to do in order to move the project along. This gave me the structure and direction I needed. I then called my massage therapist and made an appointment for the following Monday. After hanging up the phone, however, a strong need to do something productive (I just couldn’t sit around and do nothing!) came over me. In response, I decided that ignoring this inner voice entirely would be a mistake, just as ignoring the muscle spasms would have been.
After much contemplation, I headed for the backyard for a session of weeding an overgrown flowerbed. This choice not only removed me from the cause of my stress, but the physical work stretched out my tight shoulder muscles; and, it gave my tired brain a break from the cognitive demands of organizing my office space.
As a bonus, I also now felt some relief from the guilt that would have most likely plagued me for the rest of the day because I hadn’t accomplished a thing. My message then, is this: do whatever it takes to learn how to best nurture and care for yourself, and remember — you are the one responsible for your own well being.