Is there a bigger challenge for someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than the holidays? So many things to keep track of, so many things to accomplish – all of them with a deadline. After planning twenty-five or so holiday seasons, I’ve come up with some strategies, and also know where some of the potential pitfalls for someone with ADHD are at this time of the year.
I worked in retail sales for over three years, all of them spent in stores in large shopping malls. The first store I worked in, Victoria’s Secret, was in a beautiful mall in Boston called Copley Place. Everything about the mall was soothing – the peach marble interior, the low lighting, the waterfall and the softly playing classical music. The stores were all high end, like the beautiful Brentano’s bookstore with its many art books. At Christmas time white lights decorated the mall tastefully. Something about the way the mall was built kept it from being too loud, and the foot traffic, while healthy, wasn’t overwhelming. I loved my job, and despite the long hours, I never felt tired.
Right before I got diagnosed with depression, I suffered through the most horrible Christmas ever. On the surface, everything was fine. I spent Christmas Day with my family as usual and a couple of days later my best friend got married in a lovely ceremony and reception. But the moment I was out of sight on my way home from my parents’ house, I burst out crying and cried for hours. And I was only able to endure an hour of the wedding reception before escaping. Thankfully, by the next holiday season my depression was controlled by antidepressants and I truly enjoyed it.
The holidays put a lot of demands on everyone, but are exponentially more difficult for someone with depression.
Let’s face it – even in an un-depressed state, the holidays are stressful and often disappointing. We run ourselves ragged buying gifts, cooking, decorating and entertaining. Tempers flare as we’re thrown together with relatives whom we see infrequently, and don’t necessarily enjoy spending time with. Expectations are high that this season will be magical and perfect as we try to recapture the wonderment we felt as children waiting for Santa, or wait for a rush of emotion as we ponder the religious significance of Christmas and Chanukah. When those feelings don’t automatically well up, we’re disappointed.