I’m on the verge of becoming that uncle who tells you the same anecdote every year at the annual family holiday party.
That’s because when I went to write this post, I discovered that exactly 364 days ago I already wrote a post about how the last month of the year can present unique challenges for ADHDers.
The fact that I almost began this month by writing a post I’d already written a year ago as if it was an original idea somehow encapsulates everything I was going to say about December in very few words. But I’m going to write more words anyway.
Like a family with its own strange holiday rituals, maybe we can make this check-in about ADHD and December an annual tradition. After all, what more appropriate way to start an ADHD-related tradition than by doing something, and then doing it again because you forgot you did it the first time?
When I say that ADHD is a dangerous month for ADHDers, I’m not just talking about the holidays. For students with ADHD the holidays are probably only the second most harrowing December event: the first, of course, being final exams.
I’ve been out of school five years now, but I still regularly have dreams about having to take an exam that I haven’t studied for. The emotions are always similar. Besides the obvious panic of taking a test on material you don’t know, there’s the constant feeling of asking yourself: how did I let things get to this point? Why didn’t I just study for this exam?
Personally, I’m happy to say that studying for exams is not on my to-do list this December. What these dreams generally do for me is twofold: remind me that I’m glad to be done with school, but also that feelings of guilt over organizational/time-management/self-motivation skills are still a part of my life.
I know that’s not especially helpful for students who currently have finals week looming in front of them. So the other thing I’d say to those students is that I certainly sympathize, and I feel your pain – if only in the form of recurring dreams!
Of course, the most universally challenging (but potentially rewarding, if it’s your thing) part of December isn’t final exams, but … THE HOLIDAYS *dun dun dun*.
In a way, the holidays are like a final exam – in all the things people with ADHD struggle with. There’s gift shopping, which tests your ability to get things done in a timely way. There are family events, which can certainly test your skills in emotional regulation. And then there are a million large and small possible tests of your organizational skills, from hosting guests, to balancing work and holiday commitments, to cooking a high-stakes Christmas dinner.
All of which is to say, you’re certainly not alone if you feel overwhelmed this December, whether it’s from end-of-semester exams or end-of-year holiday celebrations. But since the holidays are supposed to be about togetherness, I’ll leave my fellow ADHDers with this thought: at least we are overwhelmed together!
Image: Flickr/Da Puglet