Chemo Brain and ADHD: How I am coping…

chemo brain and ADHD

When my ADD is in gear before my brain gets going, it's coffee to the rescue.
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How am I doing after the chemo and radiation? Am I glowing in the dark? Do I have superpowers?

Weeeeeeeell, no, and it’s not through lack of trying by best to make something happen.

What I did get though was chemo brain and ADHD teaming up to make me the most scatterbrained individual on the planet.

How am I coping?

Lists, lists, and more lists…

I would recommend these to anyone anywhere on the ADHD spectrum, but when chemo brain and ADHD team up, you are going to need them more than you did before.

I have lists:

  • for calls to make
  • for groceries to by
  • for writing to do
  • for books to read
  • for projects to do and finish
  • for chores to do
  • for things to remember that don’t go on any above lists.

When I tell you my life is many lists, I am not joking. At this point, I think I need a list for my lists.

I use:

  • Evernote for my writing with the reminders turned on
  • MS To-Do lists with the reminders turned on
  • The sidebar list on my Samsung, with -you guessed it- the reminders turned on.

Planners? I use them, too…

As you can see, I have goals and lists in there as well. Yes, I know it looks more like a bullet journal than a planner, but the middle is a perpetual calendar. So, yeah.

Pace yourself. Don’t Haste yourself

This is the hardest thing for me to remember. I have been struggling with this all my life. Chemo is like that life coach that tells you when to whoa. The only difference is you doze off without knowing it. So, that little fatigue ninja is still around, and I am going to fix his little red wagon next year by doing Yoga and cardio.

I have to remember, now more than ever, how to pace myself and not to get frustrated when I can’t get everything done.

Yes, I still pack daily lists with more things than I can do in a day. I can’t blame that one on Chemo Brain. That’s all ADHD, but that doesn’t keep the rollover from that list from getting longer. That’s Chemo Brain. So, I have to make the list shorter and tell myself not the worry if I don’t get to it.

I’m fine… The most popular lie

My oncologist told me she’s had countless patients tell her they haven’t noticed any change only to go on to tell her they make lists and follow them. We both smiled when she said that because we both know your “normal” changes. You just adapt.
There are days I cry. There are days I want to scream at the heavens. There are days I do my best to mask my sadness and frustration with smiles and jokes. Then again, those who tend to be the saddest don’t want others to frown.
Don’t worry about me, even though some of you will. I have friends I can talk to and my husband to lean on in times when all I can do is cry.

Look outward…

All I ask is that you reach out to those who seem lonely and help them. Many people are suffering alone because they don’t think they have anyone to turn to on the days when the weight is too heavy to bear. They sit in silence and entertain thoughts of leaving this world before their time.

If you know someone in real life or from a distance who is acting out of the norm for them, or that you know has gone through or is going through something negative, reach out to them. Let them know you are there. Don’t let them suffer alone. Don’t try to cheer them up. Depression hates that more than anything.

Just listen.
Just let them lean on you.
Just let them hug you if they need it, and above all

let them cry until they can’t cry anymore.

Don’t judge them. Just care for them. They will remember the ones who did.

Until next time,
Anissa “Maddy” Walker


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