Friday, June 7, 2013

Routines and Expectations

I am a routine person, almost to a fault. I like knowing what I can expect on a daily basis and what should come next. I actually prepare myself for the day by going through my routine, methodically checking off what I have already accomplished, what needs to be done, and what I can shift to tomorrow's schedule. It can be hard to live with me because I really depend on this routine to help me understand time and schedules since the actual concept of time does not make that much sense to me and when that routine is interrupted, I kinda freak out. I try really hard not to freak out and just go with the flow, but after many therapy sessions, I have realized that it is simply in my genetic makeup and there really isn't a lot I can do to change what happens. In order to deal with this, my incredibly go-with-the-flow husband has had to change some of his habits to help me deal a little better with the world around me.

For example, my husband has recently taken up bike riding as a hobby. A hobby that I support and am excited about (heck, I even bought the bike for Christmas!) but I have to know at least 18 hours ahead of time before he wants to ride. Does it really take away from anything? No, the kids are easy during this time of year and I can handle them  myself. Does it cost anything? No, not after the initial investment. Is it a GREAT thing? ABSOLUTELY!! He needs this outlet and I love seeing him enjoy something physical like this. But if just comes home and asks to go on a ride without previously letting me know, it completely throws me for a loop and I become irrationally angry. I shouldn't and there really isn't a reason to get angry, but I can't help it. It is a break in my routine, a change, something that I wasn't prepared for and that would mess what I have been planning for the past day in my head. For most people, it is just a slight inconvenience and not a big deal at all. For me, it is almost earth shattering- my heart rate increases, I start breathing heavy, I get frustrated and angry very quickly and lash out at him for no other reason than it wasn't in my routine.

I know it seems silly and very patronizing to submit oneself to the mental issues or quirks of another. I get how it seems like I need to "just get over it" and deal. Believe me, I have tried for 31 LONG years and I just can't seem to change that part of me. Bottom line- if you want to change my routine, you need to prep me and give me some time to rearrange my future to incorporate this new event. I can do it and I can do it well when given a head's up but without that little bit of foresight, I simply can't.

I want people who live with those with ADHD or anxiety to understand that if there is a freak out after a sudden shift of plans, it is not because of the event itself or the messenger about the change, it is because most ADHD kids don't understand time or they rely so much on their routine that any shift becomes a huge obstacle in their internal planning and they are scrambling to try and incorporate this new issue and process this new event. It isn't fair for you, the listener, or for them, but it is what it is and  most of the time, nothing can be done to re-organize their plans or routine. That is ok...but don't it expect it to be an easy transition!!
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