Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression & Disorganization: The Dynamic Trio
Messy Room by Shel Silverstein
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!
A Terrible Combination
I just got done cleaning my son's room for what seems like the 100th time. Littered with dirty clothes, sunflower seed hulls, and candy wrappers, I found myself getting angrier and angrier. Things stuffed up under the bed, dirty clothes mixed with clean, dirty dishes, a spoon (no wonder why we're always running short of silverware!), assorted glasses, and just trash in general. Motherhood is not all it's cracked up to be...especially today!
In case you're thinking my son is 10 and this is just ordinary little boy messiness, think again. My son is an adult who lives with me. ..and he suffers from severe ADHD and depression...a double whammy and a sometimes deadly combination.
Since he was a little boy, I knew my son was different. High spirited, fun loving, loud...everyone who met him said he was "all boy." But having worked with children for awhile, I knew there was something more going on. As he went through school, he struggled even though he was bright. And the messiness! Good grief, his school papers were so wrinkled I couldn't believe any teacher would ever accept them. His book bag was a disaster. I had to stay behind him constantly. And his room! I couldn't understand it.
After being misdiagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it wasn't till high school till a doctor nailed the problem as ADHD. He was put on medication, but as anyone knows who ever has dealt with ADHD, there is no "magic bullet" and many times you struggle to find the medication that really works for you.
Adult Messy Marvin
Fast forward to adulthood and you realize that ADHD is not something people outgrow. Adults with ADHD are six times more likely to suffer from issues with disorganization than the average person. This spills over to their offices, their cars and whatever space they happen to occupy. Attorneys who have defended individuals with ADHD have commented that if they think their client has a mental issue like ADHD that might be at the root of their criminal behavior, all they have to do is ask to look at their cars. Cars of individuals with ADHD generally look like they have been living in them for quite some time. My son's certainly does.
The triple whammy that goes along with ADHD and the disorganization that accompanies it is depression. As an individual with ADHD struggles with attention issues, they may feel so different from others that it affects their self-esteem. They may feel left out from the rest of the world even as adults. Everything that goes along with being an adult that is exhausting for a normal person becomes insurmountable to a person with ADHD.
Even something as simple as doing your laundry is like a tidal wave. So many steps! Imagine if you had severe ADHD what doing laundry must be like. First, you have to sort your laundry into lights and darks. But wait! The tv is on and it's a game you really wanted to see! After 30 minutes of watching the game, back on task. You go through pockets and whoops, there's that insurance card you meant to put in your wallet! Let's put it in there now before we forget. Now where's my wallet...search for missing wallet ensues. You find the wallet in your car from where you left it the night before and then can't remember where you put the insurance card. You throw all the sorted laundry on the floor looking though it for the missing insurance card. You finally find it and go to put it in your car instead of in your wallet. But now you've misplaced your keys and can't get the car open....etc.,.etc.,.etc., END RESULT: Laundry never gets done, dirty clothes all over floor and still missing insurance card AND car keys.
Experts say one out of every four people with ADHD suffer from depression and is there any wonder? If your surroundings are in constant disarray because of your lack of organizational skills, it's easy to see how you can slowly sink into depression. The experts say the best way to deal with the lack of organization is break tasks down into steps, so "clean your room" doesn't sound like an impossible task. Tell that to a mother who has been beating her head against a wall so long it's just quicker and easier to do it herself!
Even though my son is an adult, he requires constant reminders of what his responsibilities are as a member of the household. Frustrating for me as his mother, you bet! You read all the research and you listen to what the doctors say, but it's hard to remember it all when you're faced with a disaster area called a room yet again. However, it's way more preferable to a down swing where he doesn't want to come out of his room or even eat. I try to remind myself of that when I'm sweeping up those sunflower seed hulls. And I hope and pray for that "magic bullet" where his ADHD and depression AND the organizational challenge is resolved all at the same time.