ADHD mailroom nightmare

Mail. ACK!

I hear from ADDivas all over the world who report they haven’t opened mail in weeks, month, even years.

It collects on kitchen counters, under desks, piled into laundry baskets, ignored on beds and heaped on long unused dining room tables.  And, like the oysters in the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky “And thick and fast, they came at last and more and more and MORE!”

Logically, the onslaught of fresh new envelopes and fliers and magazines that hit our mailboxes or post office boxes should have subsided with the advent of internet marketing, right? Uh, no. Somehow, despite opting in to online statements (which frankly scares me – what if I miss one and then they disappear-poof!-into thin internet air) and various other supposedly convenient options, the mail apparently MUST go on.

Which brings me to: what to DO with all of it, especially the backlog? Here are a few hints I have learned along the way:

  1. If there is a huge backlog, deal with today’s mail first. It’s obviously more important than 2015 mail simply because if something was urgent back then, someone, somewhere would have contacted you again and again…like maybe TODAY!
  2. Dealing with mail starts with finding a place to put TODAY’s mail. Some people use a basket (which I don’t like because it takes up more horizontal surface). Some people tuck it into a drawer- also dangerous because who LOOKS in that drawer — or even wants to look? Not me. I use a stand up plastic folder so I can see how much mail I have. It’s pretty skinny so not more than 2-3 days of mail will fit. And it looms over the rest of the horizontal mess, so I can see it.
  3. Most people know and do this but open mail next to the trash can and recycling bin. If they aren’t close together, move them temporarily. It’s worth the effort.
  4. Have a stapler and thick marker at the ready so you can staple bills or “save” mail together – no lost pages. Mark bills with a star or B, mark things to save with an S or make a separate pile for them (can you believe I said make a PILE??? Whew).
  5. Take all the B-bills to a bright colored folder – mine is orange so I don’t overlook it and put them in view (I use another plastic file folder thingy). Take all the saves to another folder — different color. Boom! Mail sorted for the day.
  6. The backlog? Take two inches of old, moldy mail at a time, starting at the top of the pile, basket, etc. That stuff is second most important to sort.  Same process, but you should be able to get rid of far more of it in the recycling/trash bins.
  7. Alternate plan: pull two inches from the bottom of the pile and process the sorting—almost ALL of it can go away.
  8. Eventually you will end up with a pile of “I think I should save this but I don’t know what to do with it.” That’s the most difficult pile to deal with. Some people hang onto magazines they want to read for a year, then toss them. Why not toss them after one month? Or better yet, unsubscribe? You can get that information online 24/7 – seriously. Try it.

OK… that’s it. But I forgot one important thing. This takes time. Every day it will take twice as long as sorting the current mail, but eventually, you’ll get in the habit. 

For me, seeing that mail in the plastic folder is like an itch I need to scratch -I want it gone before the next deluge comes in.

Got ideas for mail sorting and processing? Post ’em below. And next time we’ll talk about what to DO with all those bills and saved stuff.

Oops–gotta run, another deluge just hit my folders!

Making friends with Overwhelm?

I admit it: I take on too many projects, commitments, appointments and I end up feeling squished into a corner when they collapse on me at one time.

In other words, I create overwhelm. ADHD overwhelm to be exact.

In the past, I have beaten myself to a bloody emotional pulp about it. “I have no one to blame but me. I said ‘yes’ to all this. I invited it in and now I am frantic. I can’t ask for help because everyone told me NOT to do this and I did it anyway. And now I am suffering alone. Poor me! But no, it’s not ‘poor me’ because I did this to myself…”  Blah blah blah blah.

It keeps going like this until I am tired of the self flagellation, finally kick into gear and paste on whatever BandAid® is required to keep most of the plates spinning. Then I deal with the ones that fall and shatter, swearing never to invite ‘too many things’ into my life again. Ever. Never. Won’t do it.

And then. I do it again. Grrrrrr! What is WRONG with me? Oh yeah, ADHD.

In the last few weeks, though, I’ve had a revelation about overwhelm. I think I keep inviting it into my life because I like it.

Huh? Why in the world would I deliberately put myself in the position of feeling crazy and out of control and overworked, far too busy and, let’s be honest, often far too crabby?

It’s an ADHD coping strategy!

Yep – all that overwhelm and excitement generated by “too much to do” forces my otherwise lazy neurotransmitters into full out racing mode. Then I can pay attention to all those details. Get things done. Feel alive.

Can it really be true? That my lifelong dance with overwhelm has been a deliberate and successful method of treating my ADHD?

“I always take on one more project than I can comfortably handle.”  That’s my response to comments about my overwhelm and stress. They keep me slightly off balance. I am forced to constantly rearrange, reassess and reconfigure my life to accommodate these interesting-but-frustrating events and projects. Which keeps my brain busy, busy, busy.

My brain likes to be busy. It’s the natural state of ADHD, right? So it is entirely possible that I have, indeed, been self-medicating my ADHD with perennial overwhelm.

Duh! I should have realized this a long time ago. Then I could have stopped fighting all this overwhelm and given it a hug. It’s actually doing me and my brain a favor.

From now on, when I feel squished into that corner of my own creation, I will try to remember that it’s not a bad thing. It’s my own coping mechanism for avoiding boredom, and thus avoiding ADHD brain slowdown (neurotransmitter-wise, at least).

Yes, I am gonna give that overwhelm its due. Thank you Overwhelm. You have been a loyal and trustworthy presence throughout my entire life. I now understand that you have been trying to support me, not tear me apart. I pledge to take a breath and merely smile knowingly the next time you show up.

Which, of course, is today.

Keep smiling, Linda.

Keep on smiling…

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