I first found out I had combination-type ADHD in September 2017 after I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. At the time, I didn’t realize how that affected the rest of my mental health conditions, but I do now. I originally thought all my anxiety attacks resulted only from performance anxiety (atelophobia)––which I recently broke my fear of––but upon further observations, my obsession with perfectionism is rooted in my ADHD. How does that work? My memory is a bit faulty due to my ADHD––I’ll remember two different things and blend them together, I’ll remember parts of something and not the whole, or I’ll think I know something when I really don’t. I’ve tried to explain this problem to others––including supervisors at work––and they don’t seem to get it. They think I’m purposefully forgetful and tell me to ask clarifying questions, but the problem is I don’t even realize I remembered something incorrectly until I received a correction about it.
This is where the perfectionism comes in. I frequently mess things up and become a burden for others, so I try to rectify that with perfectionism. However, it seems like my efforts to make things right don’t work out half the time, which leads to depression. I become depressed because I feel like a big mistake. Remember the story of the ugly duckling? I feel like that duckling. There are all these pretty ducks around me in the world, and I’m that stupid runt of a duck that nobody cares about. I’m unintentionally a complete ditz at times, which makes some people completely frustrated if they don’t have the patience to deal with the inattentive side of my ADHD.
This leads to further depression about the way God created me: How can I ever be a great employee if I constantly make mistakes, even though I do learn from them? How can I lovingly disagree with others when they try to form explanations about me because they don’t understand the way my mind works? How can I balance the desire to do things correctly with the fact that I can almost never do things right?
Then, anxiety kicks up. I get so anxious about being a screwup that I actually do mess things up. I avoid people because I think they hate me for burdening them. I get anxious because I know God doesn’t create junk, yet I feel like junk. I get anxious about the fact that I try my hardest, yet it’s not good enough for some people.
Now that I know this cycle occurs, I’m trying to banish my perfectionism and develop ADHD management strategies. My anxiety levels have been minimal for this entire year because my three therapists and I have brainstormed anxiety management strategies, which I have stuck with. However, I didn’t realize my ADHD was a trigger until this past month, so we didn’t think of any strategies for that. Over the next two weeks, before the school semester starts and I have four jobs, I’m going to figure out ways I can let others know about the issues ADHD causes and the ways I plan to combat them.
If I can stop this cycle, I’ll hopefully become less anxious. If I can learn to accept me for who I am––despite my faults––I’ll hopefully develop more self-confidence and get rid of those depressive moments (I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I don’t generally deal with depression year-round and only have episodes every so often if things go south). My goal for the next month is to continue figuring out how all my medical conditions coexist with each other and develop an action plan that targets all three.
Have any questions or deal with a similar problem? Feel free to email me or mention it in the comments. Thanks, readers!