something that has always bothered me about my executive dysfunction—and which preventing me from accepting that there was an issue rather than just laziness on my part—is that I do not often struggle to complete tasks, no matter how difficult… but I always struggle to start them. (this is especially the case during bipolar downswings, where motivation is at its lowest and nothing seems rewarding enough to bribe myself with.)
my struggle with task initiation is not unique among fellow ADHD peeps, I have learned; in fact, there are many articles describing it and giving tips. however, I have found that years of maladaptive behaviors on my part mean that some of those tips do not work for me—so I figured I would share what does work! while I used my personal examples for each of these, I have also seen some of my students be successful with these… but, as with everything, YMMV!
(cw: sexual assault, PTSD, complex PTSD, trigger responses, dissociation, emotional abuse, relationship violence)
the last couple of weeks have been, to be frank, an absolute mess. the stress at work was beyond wild because of this past Monday’s site visit, the results of which will determine whether we get funding to continue our personalized learning journey—and then I had an interesting conversation with a colleague on Thursday the 30th that left me too shaken to write about until, well, now.
it started out innocently enough. we were discussing something unrelated and I mentioned to my colleague that I missed seeing them around, as we just have not coincided in a while. they breathlessly revealed that they have been taking some time off because they were sexually assaulted and are trying to recover from the experience. they then went on to describe the situation in pretty specific detail—and, as (bad) luck would have it, it was really close to my own experiences with assault.
I thought last week was difficult—but nothing could have prepared me for this week. I had a pretty intense PTSD episode (post incoming), did some laundry, and tried to keep my head afloat. on a bright side, the walkthrough happened this past Monday and it seems to have gone quite well!
write something every day (except Shabbat). I actually did write every day except Shabbat this past week, not even including academic work, and it was super exciting! I’ve started Camp NaNoWriMo strong—okay, it’s only three days, but I don’t usually start on the 1st so I’m giving myself credit—and I’m actually excited about this story! we’ll see how this goes!
be better about money. I got my tax refund today and I’ve never been more excited to see a deposit in my savings. I’m trying to keep at least 40% of it in savings, so we’ll see how that goes—but all I did with that money today was pay this month’s bills early (aaaaaaand buy tickets for Endgame for myself and some of my closest friends since it comes out my birthday weekend)! I’m gonna also buy some supplies for my classroom and some hair products from ULTA because I’ve been waiting forever to buy them. but overall, I feel pretty excited about making good money decisions lately, including accepting a summer job that I know will be more work but will pay way better than my other option.
self-validate more. my therapist actually remarked on this just this past Monday, as I told her about my PTSD episode and managed not just to avoid negative self-talk but also give myself props for how I handled things. I’m also sitting on that post (I’ve literally got five in the queue), but I’m trying to figure out what makes the most sense when (and what I can finish first).
until the next time, in whichever post that might be!
(note: as has been the case recently, I’m typing in lowercase for the aesthetic. life’s too short for grammatical prescriptivism, so just let me live.)
happy Sunday, y’all—or, as I call it, “teacher Monday.” I’ve been doing some mentoring and coaching for a first-year teacher recently, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about how much of an emotional toll the job takes on our relationships, not just ourselves. it got me to thinking about how I’m having one of the healthiest, most productive school years of my life this year—and, I have to say, I think a huge part of it has to do with the fact that I am now married and I have a wonderful and supportive partner. that made me think more about what we’ve done to make our relationship work despite the wild stress of my job (and my second job, and grad school…)
DISCLAIMER: while I have been going to therapy for eight years at this point (so, my whole teaching career), I am in no way a mental health professional and am simply speaking about my experience! Please remember that every person is different and so is every relationship, so your mileage will definitely vary… but I know I can be hard to deal with in general and my job doesn’t help, and it’s taken a lot of trial-and-error to figure out what works, so I figured I would share.
so, with aaaaaaaaall that in mind, here are my top five tips:
running hella late this week because it’s been a really tough one… February is usually a difficult month for me emotionally, with this week being the hardest and, although I feel I am doing a lot better than I have in previous years, it still has not been a walk in the park…
write something every day (except Shabbat). I ended up writing a lot longhand this week due to starting my second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition, so I have no idea what my word count is, but I think I only skipped a day this week!
be better about money. I might feel differently about this in a day or two, but right now I am loving that I got so many of my things paid today and that I’d planned properly for the start of this month. I also got a notification from Mint today that my credit score went up more than 10 points and, even though I recognize that credit scores are often bullshit, it’s still nice to get that external validation.
self-validate more. I honestly have been rocking this resolution, but today I found myself more insecure than I have so far this year, and I definitely asked for a lot of validation for my work in the awards assembly at work. Relatedly, I pushed myself way too hard with that assembly and I am now c r a s h i n g hard.
overall, I think I’m starting to hit the “I am too tired for this wall”… my habit tracker for this month was absolutely tragic despite my best intentions, and not even the bullet journaling is something I did consistently. but we’re on to a new week soon and a new month, so I’m going to take Shabbat to recharge and then hit the ground running to make next month better.
who knows? I might even actually keep up with Duolingo this time 😂
a day late because I was on a field trip with some students yesterday… but, as y’all probably know, tarde pero seguro (late but certain) is the name of the game for me…
write something every day (except Shabbat). I’ve been trying to do even small bits of writing on days when I’m running out of time or energy to write extended pieces—so the hope is to keep making progress on that! my double-class term is almost done, so I’m hoping I can commit to working on one project that I write on every day.
be better about money. this month has been tough in terms of money because both the roommate and I have gotten shorter checks than usual due to various shenanigans, but I’m happy to report that we’ve stayed on top of things as best as possible and that things are looking up for the next couple of months. yesterday I took the CTA for a long-complicated commute instead of just getting an Uber, so I’m feeling good about that too!
self-validate more. this continues to be an area of strength most of the time—but I still sometimes reach out for external validation before I can commit to finalizing some things, which is something that I still want to work on. I have really reduced my negative self-talk, though, and that has been a huge struggle for me for years, so I’m glad to have that to celebrate.
I’ve got some things to get off my chest that I’ve started to write about—but it might have to wait for two more weeks, or until the double-class term ends!
okay, y’all, today has been wild in the best of ways because I have actually knocked out just about everything on my to-do list!
the best part, at least for me, is that I did not even have to give myself an intense pep talk, or bribe myself, or even do anything other than decide to do a thing and then do it. it’s seriously life-changing to remember that such a thing is possible because I honestly do not know when was the last time I felt like this was. I literally worked for about seven hours and did my laundry, cleaned my room, wrote three papers (so I’m now ahead in my grad class!) and did some grading!
(granted, I did not a whole lot over the weekend, other than writing a brief paper last night, so perhaps it was the actually resting that did it? either way, I am hella, hella grateful)
here’s to more functional days, y’all.