How I, an autistic with ADHD, am coping (and how you can too)

The thing about neurodiverse people is: sometimes we cope really really well with stuff. And other times we don’t.

I personally cope with the practical stuff quite well. I can deal with being in isolation. I can put stuff off until next week (ADHD procrastinators know where I’m coming from with that). I can adapt what I need to do. And I’m not going to run out of food any time soon.

But the emotional side is taking its toll. I worry about being judged for the decisions I’m taking. I am anxious about what’s going to happen with work. I get sad when I see the “me, me, me” attitude of people who stockpile. And I wonder why my dad is acting like there’s nothing to worry about.

So here’s what I’ve been doing about it.

Gone to work

I’m fortunate in that I love my job. I work from home anyway so I haven’t had to make any decisions about that, and of course I’m used to it.

Being productive is a challenge of course, especially when you have ADHD. But working gives me a distraction from the worry.

Sometimes I even take my own advice on scheduling, prioritising and making sure I get things done. You can see such advice here on my blog.

Taken a break from social media and the news

Not easy when part of your job involves being on social media, but I shut the office door and leave my phone alone for periods during the day.

Someone on Focusmate (see below) told me they use (Mac only) to stop themselves obsessively reading the news. More blocky apps can be found in this post on Amish Time.

Found a supportive community

Focusmate (which I have talked about a lot lately) has become more than a productivity tool – it’s a supportive community too. Lots of people around the world are using it while they’re in isolation.

Ministry of Test has a self-care thread here (thanks Gem).

And social media can actually be quite supportive, if you’re talking to the right sort of people. I’ve actually found some really helpful stuff on Twitter. Which brings me to the next thing I did:

Curated my mates

In the past two days, I’ve left and deleted a WhatsApp group, and blocked a couple of people on my phone.

Some people are just not helpful right now and I can’t be dealing with people if they’re making me feel worse.

Curating friends goes further than distancing myself from unhelpful people though. I am also trying to value and nurture the people in my life who are supportive. Some of those are real life friends, colleagues and neighbours, others are those who I’ve connected with online. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it here but I feel really grateful to have such amazing people in my life.

There are some brilliant people around and they will help all of us get through this.

Done something for someone else

I’m a member of a Facebook group for the community, so I can help out the local olds and immuno-suppressed. I’ve volunteered to look after the kids of people who have proper jobs (doctors, for example).

I’m not telling you this to big myself up. It’s a reminder (to myself as much as you) that doing things for other people can help us feel better. It’s a useful distraction. It gives us a sense of control where we feel we have so little, and – for me at least – it’s a chance to get out of my own head and gain some perspective.

Tried to be kind to myself

It’s really hard when we’re not sure what to do, we might not trust the official advice and we forget what we should and shouldn’t be doing. But beating ourselves up about it, or taking others’ judgements too seriously, doesn’t do any good.

So I’d like to leave you with something I tell my clients all the time and I try to remind myself:

You are doing the best you can with what you have.

Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s help each other out. You can email me if you’d rather.

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