Scattered mind scattered life - CHADD's Adult ADH...

CHADD's Adult ADHD Support

13,994 members3,638 posts

Scattered mind scattered life

Lani24 profile image

Hi, I'm 28 and recently was diagnosed with inattentive ADD. For a lot of my teenage years and twenties my life has been chaotic. Anyway now I have an explanation for how I function and am ready to put in the work to address and manage it better.

One thing that i need to face is getting the 'simple' things in my life in order. Can anyone relate to always avoiding things like paperwork, bills etc until things become crisis-y? Logically I know i just need to sit down and sort things out but I feel ashamed about how impossible that is (has been) for me. Unpaid fines, overdue bills, school enrollments for my children, setting up direct debits, lodging tax returns...etc..

Can anyone relate to this and been able to overcome it? Anyone have any advice on how to face this pile of terror. Where do I start? What support could i look for? I don't really have family or friends close enough that I would be able to admit what a mess things are in. Has anyone hired a life coach, is that something they would help with?

Thank you for reading

34 Replies

You said all that dysfunction so well! Geese, where to start? I have been on meds for almost 30 years and life is still a challenge. Get all the help you can. Be creative. A teenage kid to open and sort, even file all your mail 2x a month? Lose important papers? I have One box that all things important goes into. Mental Health? I have a case manager who helps me with things like lost phone numbers and forgotten Dr app and therapy appts. Get a life coach if you can and lol just want someone to Hate! This person will not be your friend. But. Just may be your salvation! Take care.

Wow you sound just like my me. I'm so inattentive, that I'm not even sure how I've gotten this far in life. Lol I'm with you on the bills and mail(that continue to get stuffed in the mail bin) because dealing with them is "boring" or "I'll just do it later" but guess what, it gets late and it's time for bed. "I'll just deal with it in the morning. That's when I'll do it because it'll be a fresh day and it'll be the first thing I do". 🙄

I've gotten better actually because I just continue checking my bank accounts on my phone(on the app) because a month seems to go by soo quickly, that I don't wanna take a chance I missing a payment/getting a late fee. What also helps is downloading a "to-do list" app and make sure to add the widget to the main screen of your phone. It helps me a lot for times that I randomly think of something that needs to be done because I'll hurry up to the widget and add a quick note on what needs to be done. Because the lord knows I'll forget it in 10 seconds. I hope these tips helps with things. Hang in there! Cheers!

-Poetic2 profile image
-Poetic2 in reply to topdonster

I tried to download an app yesterday but forgot my new password before I could get from email to App Store. 10 seconds? Lol

topdonster profile image
topdonster in reply to -Poetic2

A good recommendation on passwords is to save your emails and passwords in a secret folder on your phone? That's what I've been doing and it's helped dramatically.

Halem1982 profile image
Halem1982 in reply to topdonster

I save my passwords on my phone but they always seem to randomly disappear sometimes. It’s a convenient tool when it works though. The best thing I’ve found to help me with passwords was a little black password book I found at The Container’s so simple and it’s amazing. It’s already broken up into alphabetical tab divided sections and as long as I keep it near my desktop, I’ll use it and continue adding the ridiculous amount of website data we all are required to have these days.

I’m in real estate and I have piles of paper all over my place. For some reason it helps me to take the papers I know are trash and fold them in half the drop them on the ground. By the end of the day I just pick up the folded paper from the ground and put it in the recycling box without having to second guess whether I need to keep it or not.

juliep47 profile image
juliep47 in reply to Halem1982

Oh my gosh!!!, I am a realtor as well and I do the same thing with the papers. So much paperwork and it piles up so quickly. I stopped printing so much , especially sheets to give to buyers when we are looking at homes. I can get on my phone now when in the homes and answer their questions. Less paper in my car and my offices. I give them a pre printed book that they can take with them of necessary paperwork and they can write notes in that and take pictures at the listings if they want. I just hired a licensed in my state virtual transaction coordinator last week because I get sucked into doing paperwork all day and don’t prospect so she is already showing me how much I have needed her for years. Amazing! Good luck.

Halem1982 profile image
Halem1982 in reply to juliep47

So funny! I’ve had a contract coordinator since 2012 and I have no idea what I’d do without her. She just handles my contracts after they are escrowed until they close, and she’s not virtual. What all does your VA do for you? That sounds like something I might need.

That is so like me!! Haha omg

Also, beware, I call it life on the edge. Horrible and Scary but darn if I don’t keep finding myself there. I am bipolar as well as ADD. I think I like the little manic rush I get when I dance out there.

topdonster profile image
topdonster in reply to -Poetic2

I can't really relate on the bipolar part, but I do understand the want for a little manic rush. Even though I don't find myself there often, I do recall feeling confident and sharp whenever I do. It's odd to explain, really. I wish i could help more!

cjnolet profile image
cjnolet in reply to -Poetic2

I’ve always been hyperactive as all hell, both with my thoughts and with my body. I was taking to my ADHD coach about this a few weeks ago. He’s ADHD too. My point to him was that I’m afraid of being so hyperactive in my 50s and his response to me was that he’s looking forward to it! I actually quite prefer that perspective. I was driving home from work tonight (I worked until midnight and running up and down the 5 story stairwell in the office every hour to get my energy out) and I was listening to house music thumping on my car stereo. I’m 34 and still as hyper now than I was when I was 14. I actually find it very joyous. I really don’t get depressed and I’m not bipolar but damned if I don’t bring the energy with me for those that need it!

MK084 profile image
MK084 in reply to cjnolet

How do you like using an ADHD coach? What types of things have they been helpful with? I’ve been seeing a therapist but I’m feeling like I may get more benefit from an ADHD coach.

cjnolet profile image
cjnolet in reply to -Poetic2

I’ve always been hyperactive as all hell, both with my thoughts and with my body. I was taking to my ADHD coach about this a few weeks ago. He’s ADHD too. My point to him was that I’m afraid of being so hyperactive in my 50s and his response to me was that he’s looking forward to it! I actually quite prefer that perspective. I was driving home from work tonight (I worked until midnight and running up and down the 5 story stairwell in the office every hour to get my energy out) and I was listening to house music thumping on my car stereo. I’m 34 and still as hyper now than I was when I was 14. I actually find it very joyous. I really don’t get depressed and I’m not bipolar but damned if I don’t bring the energy with me for those that need it!

Automatic bill pay has saved me so much money in late fees. I can relate to everything you just said. Personally I can't afford a life coach but if you can, I think that would be very helpful to you.

Yes, absolutely. I have every single bill on autopay, and I just make sure occasionally that we're not going over budget. I also never buy anything on impulse and for any purchase that isn't regular (groceries, gas, tuition) we make a point to first review accounts to make sure nothing will go awry.

Everything you said is VERY relatable! I looked and searched far and wide and unfortunately i came to the realisation that it's complicated.... many people swear by the effectiveness of checklist while others say it made things worse for them. For me, i found out the my problem isn't doing those tasks but only starting! i can take hours and sometimes days procrastinating but when/if i start nothing can stop me from finishing said task.

My advice would be just try, try anything and everything. checklist, rewards (for every task reward yourself with a small thing you really enjoy) and so on. I haven't fully figured it out but i can comfortably tell you that the more you understand how to control the challenging parts of ADD the more the advantages will shine!

Wish you all the best and good luck!

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply. I guess theres no easy answer. It makes me feel better that other people can relate. The one thing thats really resonated with me since reading a bunch of add stuff is that our brains are motivated by stuff that is interesting to us rather than stuff that's 'important' (found William Dodson's research/theories). It suddenly makes sense why important stuff that I am fully capable of doing always gets ignored until its super urgent. And it makes sense why I got through an entire degree not really 'learning' anything but getting good grades by smashing every assignment the night before or by cramming hours before an exam with my add 'hyperfocus'. I guess the answer is 'to do lists' and planning and calendar reminders and routines but ive always attempted and not been able to stick to them for more than like 2 days straight. At least acknowledging it is a first step right?

I can really relate to that because my tendency is to pile things up, then have to look for them under stacks, so I hear your frustration and have been there. If you're a visual thinker, like me, you may have to put everything in front of you. My solution has been a corkboard with push pins. It's about 2 ft by 3 ft and I put bills paid and unpaid onto it using push pins. I put the date due outside the envelope and put paid on bills already paid. Well, I must admit, I keep the actual corkboard inside a closet, so it's accessible, but not in the way.

topdonster profile image
topdonster in reply to dgs2018

All of that sounds great and very effective, EXCEPT for the part where you keep the corkboard INSIDE your closet. Out of sight, out of mind. I'd forget all about it. Well, I guess it all depends on what's in the closet and why I'd need to go in it? I'd most definitely have to put it on the outside of the closet. Lol because the system I have now of just stuffing all of my mail into the mail bin above my calender is NOT working. 🙄 I'll have to try your method dgs2018.

Cheers! 🤗

One thing: You don't have to feel ashamed, it's not really your fault. I just realized this yesterday after reading a number of works from Dr. Thomas Brown at Yale ( According to his theory on how ADHD works, your brain basically looks in on one emotion and you can't change which emotion guides how you are viewing a task. I just had the guilt thing ruin a work project for me: I was late, and I had an email in my inbox from my co-author saying "Hey, what's up with the project?" I felt so guilty about not being done, I couldn't reply to the email because I felt I had to finish the project, but every time I tried to tackle the project I was overwhelmed by the guilt of it not being done that I fled to distract myself with wasting time online or with video games until I finally got the email "Well, looks like you don't care about it, so you're out." That hurt because I had put so many hours into the project but just couldn't finish it up, still, at least now I don't have that hanging over me.

So, if right now all you feel is guilt when considering that pile of papers and things left to do, then there's a good change your brain will just hijack that emotion and run with it.

I haven't figured out a really good strategy for getting around this, and apparently (according to Brown) people with ADHD are really bad at letting long term rewards or long term consequences guide their actions, so if you can figure out a way to get some immediate gratification or reward associated with getting some of those tasks done you might have some more success. Also, just acknowledging the emotion, recognizing it, and maybe stopping yourself from doing anything until you've processed through it might help. For example, RIGHT NOW set yourself about 5 alarms on your phone for a time that you know you will have about 30 minutes to get started on one of those things. When that alarm goes off, stop whatever you are doing, and just focus on the task you need to do. If you're feeling guilty, overwhelmed, or anything like that, stop, acknowledge the emotion, but don't flee to whatever coping distraction you usually go to. Make a very determinate plan to reward yourself for getting 30 minutes of work done on it (TV show, ice cream, whatever), set a timer, and work for 30 minutes while making sure whatever prescribed meds you've got are in your system.

Maybe that could help out, or at least be worth a try.

(sorry for the walls of text here, I'm trying to process stuff myself by writing ideas out, too)

CindyLou65 profile image
CindyLou65 in reply to magikkell

It's so unfortunate we have to deal with the guilty emotions that can sometimes create more anxiety. Guilt has followed me all my life and with its friend Shame, its no wonder some struggle with depression?!

If only we could fully grasp our talents and abilities that we do have!

I’m going to start a new thread with my response because it’s been sooooo helpful to me and don’t want people to miss it. I’ll call it “body double.”

toobusy7 profile image
toobusy7 in reply to focusme

I'm newly diagnosed, but after reading all these post, I've realized that my lack of organzation skills etc is because of my ADHD, but I thought the right medication should help us with this? (I'm only on day 2 of Vyvanse)

Hi Lani,

I thought I had answered but unfortunately it did not work…

I can totally relate! I have learned not to expect too much. Break up things you have to do in small chunks. This way you won't get overwhelmed.

I am now trying out a big piece of paper with 'simple' chores on it, every time I manage I put a sticker on. It makes me smile and it is motivating.

Also: look at gamifying your life! Jessica from how to ADHD on YouTube explains this in one of her very good videos. For me Habitica ( works very nicely. Just put in chores, you receive 'gold' and 'energy for every task you manage. You go up levels like in a game. Makes the most boring task into a quest :)


Ok maybe I feel a bit guilty for not posting anything.... I gotta email saying I haven’t posted anything .

So here is my second post.

I collect paperwork and have a ton of papers I need to go through... but my important part is billing.... I have the monthly bills all go on one of my credit cards. It has an app so I can monitor it consistently. Every Friday I make a payment on it so it doesn’t get out of control. I also use auto pay at my bank to pay my loan. I set these up years ago, except for the app which I downloaded last year.... helped me from not having anymore late payments.

Oh, impulse buying I only use cash.... if I don’t have the cash, I don’t make the purchase. And I never buy anything big with out sleeping on it for at least 2 days, and discussing it with my wife..... 2 days usually gets my brain to the point of “is it necessary?” With a bit of clarity and no the rush of desire... if it’s still yes then I talk with my wife.

Hope that helps someone

I would recommend the videos "How to Quickly Tackle Paper Clutter" and "Overwhelm Part 2: How to Fight the Paper Monster

" by the youtuber 'How to ADHD'

She has ADHD herself so she understands the struggle and she presents a solution broken down into easy steps.

My grandson is 24 homeless and life is upside down. I'm trying now to her him to start working with a phycologist to help him identify and start meds to help bring life into a fictional prespective. He thinks he is ok.

My heart goes out to you <3

Today i have my first appointment for adhd evaluation. I struggle with same issues as important paperwork, budgeting etc. I currently have a growing pile of important papers I continue to plan to get to "tomorrow", eventually I will be forced to deal with!

Life with an AD/HD spouse is always full of chaos and dysfunction around the clock. I'm sure in ways it so for the AD/HD person too. I highly suggest you give yourself chores you can accommodate to accomplish. And feel rewarded and great. I call it the AD/HD game chore.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and see if you can get the papers organized before the timer goes off. Them the next day set your timer for 30 minutes and do the bills. Don't over load yourself! Start with things that areeasier to accomplish. Don't set yourself for failures, but success. Make it fun, make it a game! You'll feel great when you start beating the timer.

Hi- I was first diagnosed when I was seeing a psychiatrist for depression while studying for my master's degree in special education. When I began to study ADHD, things looked eerily familiar. I spoke to my psychiatrist about my suspicions and he diagnosed me with ADD the inattentive type. I lived with ADD without anyone knowing it for 48 years. I know the reasons for my struggles, but I still struggle.

It's a real journey. I love your title "Scattered Mind, Scattered Life". I call it scrambled eggs brain. As a teacher, I have a terrible time keeping up with paperwork. I spent a good part of the summer clearing out a den in my house that, for a number of reasons, resembled a storage locker in a self-storage facility.

So far in my career I have stayed really late at school because I couldn't focus at home and that exacerbated the tendency to procrastinate. Then I would get home really late because I don't drive. In Chicago we have a good public transit system, but the intervals between buses in certain routes are super long the later it gets. I am hoping that the space I carved out for myself will help me keep on track. Maybe if you can carve out a quiet space at your house it would help. My situation is different because I was never blessed with children of my own.

I don't know anything about life coaches, but you might want to look up CHADD (Children and Adults with ADD) online to see if there is a support group near you. The only ones near me are too far away to be accessible without a car, but there might be one near you.

As a special education teacher with ADD, I would strongly suggest anyone with ADD or ADHD has children have them checked as soon as you notice anything eerily familiar. If any of your kids have ADD and it's the inattentive type, it may go unnoticed- especially if they are quiet and their grades are ok.

If any of your children are diagnosed with ADD, then you can bring the diagnosis to your child's school and advocate for accommodations and modifications in their regular education classroom. I'm not sure if the terminology is the same in other states. In Illinois students with ADD or ADHD can qualify for a 504 plan. This is a legal document (at my school it's drawn up by the social worker) and it stipulates specific accommodations and modifications to the schoolwork that their teacher is legally bound to provide. I hope this helps.

I’m struggling with the same thing you wrote in this post. I noticed it’s been a year since you posted it. Can you share how things are now for you? Any advice or tips? Have you improved or is it still a struggle?

how is life these days Lani?I just read your post from 3 years ago. I have the whole procrastination problem as well. i try to set up one thing each day - and i have a paper calendar near the coffee maker to check . i also set an alarm on my phone to check that calendar at noon every day cuz i would forget to look at it - yup forgetful too. I hope you have a supportive person in your life. its tough for them but they can help it be not so bad if they can be supportive and understand how difficult it is. my wife is super organized and rigid in her life management. she tries to help me by suggesting tricks to remember. unfortunately when i struggle she usually ends up just yelling at me berating me and reminding me about my many many many failures over the years and how i continue to ruin her life, hold her back etc..64 years old and the anxiety of the monthly character beatings leading to the dreaded banking paperwork puts me into sweats and such fight or flight its nearly paralyzing. Anyway, try the calendar / alarm combo - it helps me .

Lani24 profile image
Lani24 in reply to mcfail

Gosh mcfail im so sorry to read the way you get spoken to/ berated- to the point you anticipate and dread it.

I get it- the struggle with paperwork, paying bills, remembering things on time. You’re working on it and trying each month, you have a calendar and strategy and sounds like really don’t want to frustrate, upset your partner. You’re trying. Instead of being acknowledged, supported, respected- you’re being attacked and belittled.

That’s not okay, I hope while you’re on support forums and trying your best not to make any mistakes next time- your partner is having a long hard look at themselves and working on themselves- making sure they never verbally abuse and emotionally hurt a loved one, put them down struggling yet trying. Really awful.

What I have found as maybe the only thing that has helped really- is automate, automate, automate. Setting up automatic payments, direct debit arrangements, text message notice, email invoices and reminders rather than paper mail. Becuase I don’t open, check, read, file, paper mail, I ignore it, then dread it.

Is there anything you could set up for automatic/ electronic payments? Where you don’t have to think about it on a regular basis? Because that’s where I would start but might not helpful for you.

The other thing is maybe- could you renegotiate roles/ responsibilities with the bills/ paperwork? Why does it fall on you if it makes your wife so made when you mess up, yet is something that is a struggling for you, causes tension and is surely doing damage to your relationship and maybe your soul- being attacked by the person you love.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Yours isn’t this- you might figure out the right work around, but probably never going to come naturally or something you thrive at. So if it’s none negotiable and this is something she expects of you, mistakes and oversights are inevitable and they are not a reflection of anything about you personally not being good enough, it’s an adhd deficit.

You can’t help it. I can’t help it. I lost power the other day because the auto payments I’d had set up years ago stops on a random date last year so my bill was unpaid for months. They sent me letters, warnings, I didn’t read on once. I’m not stupid or this or that, I definitely should check my mail more than never. I have adhd these are the kinds of things that probably will always happen occasionally. I’ll keep trying to be on top of it all and mostly am, but it’s not my forte and who knows if or when the power may go off again? Certainly not me.

It is what it is. Same for you. So can you not be made responsible for a thing that’s never going to be your strongest area? Is it less of a struggle for wife, less frustrating and more peaceful if she does it? If so then that’s what I would try to negotiate if I were in a similar situation. In return you can take some of her load from her- something that doesn’t go against the way your brain is wired. Like pretty much any other chore maybe?

I hope you are able to have a constructive conversation with your wife and come up with either a different arrangement of the responsibilities, or a mutual understanding that speaking in that way is not acceptable and won’t happen again.

I wish personal administrators were a thing. Someone that could check all my bills, make appointments, file my paperwork, check my emails. Most things I think I’ve been able to really get a handle on compared to a few years ago, working on this admin paperwork stuff is just so annoying and painful and that makes it hard to meaningfully improve on and maintain.

Anyway thanks for your response and again I hope things get a bit better with your situation. Thanks for the suggestions too 😊

You may also like...