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Shopping with ADHD

01 February 2008

Some days, I forget to take my medication om the morning. This is not normally a problem and I tend to get through my day just fine. The only difference tends to be that I then also forget it at 1pm and again at 5pm. Still, not really a big problem as I do not have a very complicated, stressfull job.

But after 32 years, I should know better than attempting to go shopping on my own when I am 'off my meds'. Yesterday, I took JD to her fencing training and I set off for Tesco. I had a shopping list ready but I knew there were things we needed that were not on the list. The TESCO where I went is huge, absolutely enormous and getting lost and confused is easily done for anyone, let alone poor folks with ADHD like me.

I had 2 hours to complete the shopping. Enough time you'd think. Wrong.
First it went wrong when I noticed the Lidl was still open so I could go and get some of the stuff on the list for much cheaper by getting it there. So I did. But that confused me because I then had to remember what was normally cheaper at TESCO and what is better at Lidl.

I then entered TESCO already in a state of confusion. I spent the next 2 1/2 hours there and for every item I took off the shelves, the decision making process was something like this:

List says: Meat.

I think: Oh yes. Meat. What kind of meat. Pork. Yes, right. Where is the pork in this place? Oh yes, there. Now, what kind of pork? organic? Free Range ?Cheap? well, I SHOULD buy Organic as I want to do my bit. But I can not afford it right now. So I should buy cheap. But I don't like to buy cheap because I want to buy Organic. OK, non-Organic free-range as a mille-range solution. What kind of cut? Loin, chop, leg, belly? Hmm..I don't know, I don't know. Maybe I should just buy the pork chops from the frozen section? They might be cheaper. But maybe not. Right. Non-Organic Free Range it is then.

Right. One product in the trolley, only a whole shop left to go...

A similar process then occurs when buying lamb, beef, pasta sauce, pasta (wholemeal? Organic? Fusilli? Penne? Macaroni?) cereal, bread (Bagels? Croissants? Wholemeal of white? Thin, thick or medium sliced? Maybe pain au chocolat? )

As I went through the store, time was ticking away. I had to pick JD up from her fencing class and I was aware that the whole thing was taking a ridiculously long time, I still had stuff to get and then to check-out and then a 10 minute drive to JD. I started to feel stressed and panicky. This only made things worse as the whole process did not stop and trying to speed it up in my head just makes it worse as for some reason the decision is not made any faster and the two parts of my brain go and argue with each other:

Left side: "Come on, make a decision already!"
Right side: "Hang on, I am still thinking about it. I need to make theright choice here!"
Left side: "Yes I know, but time is running out, you need to leave now."
Right side: "I know I know, give me a minute OK."
Left side: "We do not have a minute. Hurry up!"
Right side: "Ok, I'll just have this one."
Left side: "Finally"
Right side: "Or maybe the other one is better"
Left side: "AARRGGHHH!! You are useless!"

it is difficult to explain to someone who does not have a similar problem as ADHD but there is simply nothing you can do about this once your brain goes in to this process. The whole trip just becomes extremely stressful, takes forever and in the end, you are still unhappy and unsure about the choices you have made.

In the end, I left the store at 10.15pm to pick JD up and I had not even managed to get to the fruit & vegetable section! So, I was late, took 2 hours and only managed part of the list! I felt upset and useless and had a little cry. JD said: it is heartbreaking to hear you go through that stress all the time. Sweet girl.

My own fault though. I should have taken my meds or at least known that it was not a good day to go shopping.

Needless to say I took them this morning. After all, I'll need to do fruit & veggie shopping later today!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

LOL, I SO get what you are saying!! I have ADD, edging on ADHD, so I can NEVER go to the grocery store without forgetting something or having no idea what I needed to get. I have had to have someone else write the list, and then someone go with me to make sure that I get everything! and I'm not on meds, so that tends to just leave me hanging. I remember having to do a poster (all I had to do was write on it) and with everything I got distracted with, it took me over 2 hours to finish it!

Dutchcloggie said...

I know what you mean. However, I am not always like this. It certainly gets worse when I am tired or feel rushed by time pressure. I can get in to some kind of hyper-focus really easily and just focus on nothing else for hours. Usually this does not happen to things remotely related to work :-(

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