ADHD and executive function

ADHD and executive functioning

When I sat down to write this blog post, it was originally going to be about coping in the school holidays with a child who is ADHD, not my executive function, or lack of! But as I started to writing, I realised that his assessment date (which we’d waited a year for) was the day after we fly out on our long-awaited family holiday. So I found myself holding back tears, sitting in Agility, feeling so frustrated and an utter failure.

It’s only me to blame. I got the letter from CAMHS a few months back and I put it to the back of my mind knowing there wasn’t anything to do until July. However, in that time we’ve since booked a special family holiday with the grandparents, which I should have realised clashed.

But I didn’t; I f**ked up! Big time. I know everyone forgets things now and again, and lots of you will be reading this and say ‘oh we’ve all done it’. But there are so many things like this that have happened over the years. Forgetting to check Hen’s passport was another biggy. Up until now, they’ve been explained away or just put down to ‘silly me’. But it’s happening so often now and I just feel a continual sense of being overwhelmed by it all. It’s like living with a brain that is functioning (or not) at 400 miles an hour, but that has no brake, ever.

Executive Function / Dysfunction

Executive functioning is what controls our thoughts, behaviours, and emotions. While associated with lots of other mental health conditions, including OCD, depression, and anxiety; executive dysfunction is most commonly associated with ADHD. 

Executive function skills help an individual with planning and organizing their time and regulating their emotions and actions. They are necessary for prioritising tasks, remembering details, paying attention, and focusing among others.

Symptoms of executive dysfunction can change over time. See my post ADHD and menopause, as I’ve definitely noticed a huge shift in my symptoms. Where I used to pride myself on my organised mind and schedule, which I now know was me overcompensating. I now struggle to maintain any kind of schedule or simply carry on with the everyday responsibility of family life and work.

Chronic feelings of frustration, guilt, and blame are common in people with ADHD and executive dysfunction.

About ADHD – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment – CHADD

And suddenly…

It now makes much more sense why I used to limit how many activites I would do socially when the kids were young. I thought everyone’s brain worked the same as mine, that thoughts, about things, about thoughts were the norm. I wondered how all the other mums coped doing so much. I didn’t realise until now that their brains weren’t like mine at all. The amount of thought that went into just getting out of the house and making one playdate was like climbing Mount Everest to me.

It also makes sense why I did everything ‘by the book’ as a new mum. It took a huge deal of thought out of those scary first few months of becoming a mum. I just did what Gina Ford told me and it was one less thing to have to worry about/schedule etc. Why I hate answering the telephone and always insist on doing everything in writing. It means I have the time to process, and not have to listen and note down at the same time. It also means I can refer back to it as often as I want when it’s too much to take in, in one go. And why I have a huge wall planner in my hall with colour-coded schedules for each of us (that my husband refuses to partake in). But even that now is becoming overwhelming and too much to deal with.

Every January (new year) and Sept (academic year) I buy new planners, diaries, journals, coloured pens, highlighters, you name it. Every time I promise it’ll be different and that this time I’ll use them and my life will be lovely and calm and organised. Everytime i’m left with partially completed logs, to do lists, calendars.

Stop the train…

I want somebody to stop the train so I can get off. Like for a while it was fun rushing along, but it still stopped at the stations on the way and gave us a little break. But now it’s rushing along and i’m trying to keep everyone on the train happy, make sure we don’t spill any drinks along the way, throw people and bags off as we rush pass their stations without stopping, and try to grab others trying to board. There is literally no let up…

But I guess I have to just keep on trying to function. To keep on taking each day as it comes. I’ve called CAMHS and explained the siutation and they were really good about it. What compounded my feelings of uselessness even further was searching for half an hour for the appointment letter, only to find it stuck up on the fridge, so I wouldn’t lose it. I just have to wait for a new appointment and hope that maybe a cancellation comes along.

More waiting

I also have to wait for the doctor to call so I can be referred. My original phone call appointment didn’t happen, the GP never called. I was given another telephone appointment 4 weeks later…

My day-to-day is becoming harder and harder. It’s hard to explain without sounding overdramatic, but it is genuinely so bloody tough when you don’t feel in control anymore. Anyway, one day at a time, one thing at a time.

Fay x

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