“Dude, you can’t fool me. I know there’s only seven of you. When I’m seeing eleven then maybe I’ll believe I’m as think as my friends drunk I am. Now bring me my black coffee and tylenol delivery stat!”
There’s an Improv game called Five Things that seems to be fairly universal. The basic gist is that you sing a little song and then ask the person next to you on the spot to come up with five (or seven, or eleven or whatever arbitrary number) of a certain category. It’s a warm-up game to get you thinking in odd ways.
It’s also a song that will lodge itself into your brain forever. If you don’t believe me, watch here. You get bonus points if you stay on beat and/or come up with wittier or more advanced versions for your answers. For instance, to start you might ask for five types of vegetables and only be able to think of “potatoes, carrots, peas, turnips, and celery.” Later on, you might get a little more inventive: “Mr. Potatohead, Veggie Tales, Carrot Top, The Jolly Green Giant and Sweet Pea.”
I do not seem to have self-care lodged in my brain in the same way. Between the double-vision fiasco, being mentally frozen in the 9th Circle of Hell and general ADHDness, I have been kind of terrible about my self-care this past month. (Don’t worry! No real alcohol or mind-altering substances were involved in my lack of self-care. Line games are just things that have also become permanently lodged my brain.)
I instead had the opposite problem: an unfortunate absence of the kind of mind-altering substances I am supposed to take. You know those doctor-prescribed medications that make me focus, panic less and maintain my blood pressure so I don’t fall over in the street in the middle of Hell? Yeah, those. I’ve been sufficiently forgetful, panicky and dysautonomic that I didn’t take as many of them as I should. It is nearly time for my monthly refill, and there are too many pills left in their bottles. Without a work schedule – and with the travel, trauma, loss of vision and all the rest – I have not been good with my medications.
I also have lost track of some of my calming routines. I have fewer pages completed in my coloring books (both the ones I share for Where’s Whoopsie and the entirely NSFW curse-word ones I use while in the 9th Circle of Hell to express my feelings on it) then I’d expect even with a week of no vision. I’d temporarily forgotten Epsom salts exist even in Hell to consider using them. I’ve been mostly good about eating regular meals, but not perfect on my most symptomatic days (when it would do the most good.)
Removed from my usual environments and familiar routines, it’s hard to properly plan ahead to bring what I need with me. I forget to pack my meds, fill my water bottle but then leave it in my room in a fog, etc. I’m not sure what effect bringing a journal to some of my most stressful encounters would have when it would be clear I’d be journaling about horrible things I was currently re-experiencing in front of people either responsible for them or unlikely to be sympathetic.
The usual advice for folks with ADHD is to create a launchpad with all you will need for the day, which is made up the night before and always in a predictable location. That’s decent advice for familiar circumstances, but it’s not great when traveling or when your whole routine is upended and full of chaos and fear. I need my launchpad to be mental. A memory trick for at least remembering those life essentials that ensure I won’t nearly faint in a public place because I forgot to bring meds with me and am in one of those dissociated + dysautonomic dizzy fogs that make me not consider that I could stop in and buy two quarter pounders at the nearest McDonald’s that would probably have enough salt in them (plus refillable big-gulp iced teas) to at least stabilize one of my problems long enough to get me home safely.
The best trick I have come up with so far is singing my own version of Five Things before I walk out the door. Seven things, seven things, seven things, seven things I need for survival. The answers are always the same, but something about trying to say it on beat at least makes it easier to think of them:
- Phone/Spare Battery Charger
- Meds (Including salt pills and salty snacks)
- Water Bottle
- Fidget Toy (My beaded bracelet and preferably some squishy or other more satisfying toys to sneak into my purse for when I am alone.)
Since two of those are compound items, I guess I *could* have made it Nine Things, but I like the alliteration of Seven Things for Survival. It also means that if I need a one-time-only item (like a document to get notarized for a court request), I can change it temporarily to Seven+X Things for the day, and the act of trying to remember what the eighth thing is also aids in making sure I remember both the mundane items in the face of the extraordinary and that I don’t go so far the other way that I remember the water bottle but forget the thing I need notarized (or even that I went out because I needed to go to the notary!)
What are some of your memory tricks to keep track of the items you need with you with ADHD or brain fog in the face of disruptions to your usual routine? You’re welcome to borrow Seven Things if it becomes as stuck in your brain as it apparently remains in mine, even though this week will mark the first time I get back to Improv in awhile.