In case you haven’t yet noticed, we are in the midst of a global pandemic and this is hard enough for most of us to deal with. It requires changes to a working routine, changes to how we manage our time and social interaction changes too. But the impacts of quarantine for someone with ADHD can be incredibly disruptive in a way that causes more harm than for most people.
I recently Tweeted about checking on your friends with Autism and ADHD because times like this are incredibly hard for us. We struggle to fit in a “normal” structure of life anyway (let’s face it, some things are definitely not cut out for us “weird” folks) so to have EVERYTHING turned on its head and we’re expected to change at a moments notice? It’s really bloody difficult.
That being said, I would like to point out that I do appreciate that quarantine is difficult for us all. I am not trying to say that neurotypical people aren’t also struggling but the impacts of quarantine for someone with ADHD hit a little bit harder than for most.
So what are the impacts of quarantine for someone with ADHD?
Each person is different so I can’t speak for everyone here but I know how this situation is affecting me.
Read about my ADHD diagnosis HERE
I rely heavily on a routine and right now, my normal working routine has been thrown out of the window. My normal buses aren’t running so I’m having to take a different route to work at a different time and this is making me incredibly anxious. A sudden change like this throws my daily routine right off and it stresses me out. I can no longer go about my normal day without a second thought – I have to be alert and especially more so now when things really can change on a daily basis.
I’m one of the (perhaps) fortunate ones who is able to go to work everyday still so I get to see people other than my family but although I’m not a massive social butterfly, having to stay cooped up in one place for the rest of the time is really difficult. You try try telling someone with ADHD to stay in one place… it’s hard, OK? I want nothing more than to go out and explore. Go travelling. I get bored really easily and need the stimuli from things other than books and Twitter sometimes!
This is by no means an exhaustive list but you can probably get the gist of things without having to read a list of why things are a lot harder for me at the moment.
Why can’t you just adapt like everyone else has had to?
Because that’s not how my brain works. While yes, I can definitely adapt eventually, it can be a hugely exhausting and emotional process to do so. I’ve recently returned back to work after having time off for my mental health and while I was actually mentally ready to do a full day of work, once I got to work my anxiety from the change in routine was so high I had a panic attack and had to drop to a half day.
My brain can’t just accept things that are, as mentioned previously, a change in my routine. On a normal day, my bus being late will be enough to throw me off for a full day. I can’t just relax and go with it like ‘normal’ people do. I have to know what’s happening and when something new crops up, I don’t have control over that.
While I can accept the reasons why I can’t see friends or go out and randomly explore somewhere new, it can be hard to process this and find new ways to achieve the little dopamine hits I rely on to keep me afloat.
Need a pick me up in current times? Try reading some of my funniest and happiest moments HERE
I’ve had to adapt my way of working and living to fit the ‘normal’ able minded world and that took a lot of work. I am by no means there yet. But having to now adapt to a situation that is only temporary and changing so rapidly? It’s been rough.
How can I help lessen the impacts of quarantine for people with ADHD?
Patience. Patience is key. I am incredibly stressed at the moment and it’s likely a lot of other people in my situation are too. Stressed and emotional which could make us more snappy, more impulsive and exacerbate the ADHD symptoms we manage to keep under control in normal circumstances.
The bottom line is, quarantine is not designed in a way that’s easy for neurodivergent people to adapt to. It’s not easy for anyone but it’s especially hard for us.
Try to help the people around you with ADHD by encouraging a routine. Again, only using myself as an example here but while I was self isolating, I found it hard to find a reason to keep taking my medication regularly but keeping that routine will help regulate the mind and the way things are working up there.
If you are someone with ADHD and finding this particularly tricky – don’t be ashamed to reach out for help from those around you. And if you haven’t got ADHD, reach out to those you know who do have it.
But to everyone, remember to keep you and your loved ones safe. This is a difficult time for everyone but we will all get through this together.