I figured out that I had ADHD in the last few years and a lot of my life began to make sense. This is pretty common in adults who are diagnosed with ADHD later in life. There’s that moment of looking back over different struggles and challenges and going “huh, I wasn’t lazy/fucked up/not trying hard enough. My brain works differently.”
The diagnosis helped put a name to the issues I’ve been struggling with my whole life but I’d developed coping mechanisms for many of them long before that. Some of them are:
- Working at the library rather than my house.
- Specific music.
- Knowing I needed to fuck around for about 30 minutes before my brain settled into actual Work Mode.
- To-do lists, planners, spreadsheets, and every single productivity app known to mankind.
And those are just the “good” ones. I’ve had to, and am still, unlearning negative coping mechanisms.
But one of the biggest issues that is I’m bad at motivating myself. I know I have something to do and that it’s really important. There might even be dire consequences if I don’t do it! But I just can’t. It sounds simple, I know, (just get up and do the thing!) but ADHD brains don’t work like that. One of the best comparisons I read was erectile dysfunction – you want to do something, you even enjoy doing it, but you just can’t. It’s not a matter of willpower.
But you know what does make me want to do things?
Making other people happy.
Power Exchange is Magic
Well, sort of. Don’t get me wrong, my M/s dynamic doesn’t completely override the chemical imbalances in my brain but it helps a fuck ton.
Executive dysfunction is an inability to start doing something. My brain literally cannot press the “start” button. Medication has helped over the years but there are still times when I struggle to get going. This is one of the ways that the power exchange helps. Daddy gives me an order and I go do the thing. The desire to please him is often enough to get me up and at least get moving. Many times once I have that momentum, I’m good for the day.
My urge to serve, to be useful, is pretty strong (most of the time). I can’t always activate it so having Daddy step in and push that “start” button for me is incredibly helpful.
Strategies We Use
- How I do the thing isn’t as important as getting the thing done
Perfectionism can be a bitch with ADHD. I easily get bogged down in the details rather than the whole picture. One of my expectations/rules is to focus on getting something done, no matter the method.
- Clear communication and expectations
The more specific the instruction, the better I can follow it. We lean towards the “spirit of the order” in our dynamic, meaning as long as I’m following the general idea behind the idea I’m good. But, of course, there are times when Daddy wants something very specific done so clear communication is the goal. The more I understand what to do and what to expect, the calmer and more secure I feel.
- A weekly discussion of the upcoming week
This is our Sunday night ritual. I collect all of our household calendars and my personal ones, sit with Daddy, and plan the week out. This functions as our meal planning and gives him an overview of how busy I think I’m going to be. He reserves the right to change or cancel my plans on any given day. Typically he does this if he thinks I’ve overbooked myself or picked up a chore that he doesn’t need to be done right away.
- Reliable routine
We’re not perfect at this one but having a solid routine is another part of having clear expectations. Knowing what’s going to happen and when it will happen gives me another sense of security and clarity. I struggle with memory recall at times so being able to fall back on a routine means that I’m not forgetting to do something important.
- Protocols written in an easy-to-access format
Speaking of poor memory recall, we have swapped our protocols and rules to a very easy-to-access format. This gives me less excuse to say “I forgot”. We are currently utilizing a set of color-coded index cards. One color is standing protocols/rules, another is for new ones, etc. I also note new or temporary protocols in my weekly planner as an extra reminder.
- Overarching protocols vs specific micromanaging ones
Since part of ADHD includes executive dysfunction and hyperfocus, super-specific protocols don’t work for me. I’ll fixate on the wrong thing or completely forget details and freak out when I do remember them. Having our protocols written in more of a guideline format gives me the freedom to do my best on any given day.
- Being willing to adapt and change
Sometimes methods stop working for me for a while and Daddy must be willing to be flexible and change expectations or methods in some shape. Things that work for months sometimes just stop working. Maybe the grocery list on the fridge becomes part of the scenery or our routine was off for a few weeks and I’ve gotten out of a habit. So being able to try a new method means that we can keep working together smoothly without forcing ourselves into a box that’s no longer working.
Make It Work For You
In the end, ADHD is a part of me and something we both accept and learn to work with. It’s much easier to work with the water than to fight the tide. Adapting our power exchange around my ADHD isn’t any different than other couples adopting theirs – it’s just maybe a little more on purpose and conscious.
What works for me may not work for you and that’s okay. Everyone with ADHD finds that different coping mechanisms work for them. I know so many ADHDers that hate planners but I adore mine! What is important is experimenting and finding out what works for you.
There’s no reason to not be in a power exchange relationship just because you have ADHD. I’ve written this from a slave’s perspective but I know of several Dominants and Masters that have ADHD and are successful in their relationships. It’s another challenge sometimes but not a roadblock.