ADD, depression, and lack of motivation

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    • #40219
      Penny Williams

      This discussion was originally started by user cmullen17 in ADDitude’s now-retired community. The ADDitude editors have included it here to encourage more discussion.


      Hello. I’m new here and I’m posting this partly to get feedback but also as a way to not feel so isolated. I’m a middle aged woman with ADD, diagnosed 22 years ago but never really got the proper type of help (was under the delusion I could somehow “cure” myself, as were the professionals I turned to for help). I also have anxiety and non verbal learning disabilities not diagnosed until adulthood.

      Anyway, struggling on this Sunday afternoon. I know time to oneself with ample opportunity to “get things done” is a luxury that many people don’t have. But as I sit here, alone in the house as my husband is at work, I am completely frozen. There are things to do, small, doable things I can start with, like throwing a load of laundry in or doing a few dishes… but I am completely frozen.

      Need to make a ten minute drive later to help out my elderly parents. When I am not at work I am usually helping them — they have a lot of health challenges. But when it comes to living my own life, even the simplest things for myself that would give me a sense of peace and satisfaction once they are done — like having clean clothes — are so hard to do. My brain has a hard time registering that I matter.

      Does anyone else struggle with this? I can do things for others, but not for myself. When it comes to myself, I am a complete zombie whittling away the hours — and getting more anxious about it by the second…

    • #43447
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user pnwsuzie in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      I want to respond because I feel your pain and I can relate to it. I get frozen when there’s free time and so many choices of what I could do with it…but I know that, whatever I do, there will be so many other things left undone. It’s hard to accept the amount of time that is available and not wish for more.

      I wonder if you’re struggling with being so busy with work, then spending most of your free time helping your parents—and when you have time for yourself, there’s still more work on the plate (like laundry). When do you get to just enjoy life and do something that’s fun? So you can’t get started on the laundry because you really want to give yourself a break. But you won’t allow yourself to do that, so you get frozen. Your subconscious gets what it wants—you get a break from all the work—but it’s not very satisfying because you’re fighting with yourself the whole time. This is all a guess, based on what I go through with myself. It’s a real anxiety-producing way to live.

      Maybe, if you could figure out something you would actually enjoy doing, you could give yourself permission to do it during part of your “free” time. I meditate, take walks, read, work on creative projects and enjoy my pets when I need a break from accomplishing things. My suggestion is to think about giving yourself a break for a certain amount of time, with the idea that you will be much more productive with the rest of your time if you aren’t so conflicted and hard on yourself.

    • #43456
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user Jeri-Texas in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      My therapist is trying to get me to learn what he calls nonjudgmental observing. Just notice what you’re doing without beating yourself up for it. For example, I stay up too late playing on my phone then can’t get up on time for work. He said to try and observe when I’m doing it without kicking myself for it. Then when you notice something, you make a conscious decision to continue it or do something else (in my case shut off the phone and go to sleep). If you don’t blame yourself for it, you can be more relaxed and peaceful about doing the right thing. It’s not easy to do (the not blaming yourself part) but when I’m able to do it, it really does help.

      • #75147

        I actually feel like I’m reading my life story over and over again. I didn’t think anyone else felt this way. It makes me break down and cry. I’m just lost

    • #43461
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user adhdmomma in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      The accountability you feel to others provides motivation. What looks like a lack of motivation is often seen with ADHD:

      Setting up a very structured routine can help ( Saturday is laundry; Sunday you clean the kitchen, Monday you vacuum floors, Tuesday you pay bills…. You can set it up in a way that makes the most sense for you and your work/home schedule. By making a very structured routine, you eliminate the need to make a decision and motivate yourself to take action. Tell yourself, “On THIS day, I do THIS.”

      Good luck!

      ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

    • #43467
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user bburgastros82 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      I know that I long struggled (and still do, from time to time) with the concept that it is okay to take some time and do things for myself. I think those of us with ADHD, especially those who went for a long time without being diagnosed or without proper treatment, have a hard time giving ourselves a break, and understanding that we have to take care of ourselves as well as others. When we were constantly criticized for not doing things correctly, or for not doing enough, or for falling short of the mark, even when we were trying our hardest, we internalize that shame and start to believe that our value lies in our ability to “get things done” and constantly be achieving things. Unfortunately, learning to relax and take times for ourselves, without guilt, is a skill we have to learn, just like so many other things. I I like the concept of non-judgmental observing…I think it is a very valuable activity.

      Additionally, if you have someone you can turn to who can help you with ideas, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. I am lucky that my parents and a few of my friends have always been there if I have needed help figuring out how to get started on something. Years ago, for example, my mom would come over and essentially teach me how to clean, because I would start and become overwhelmed by the big picture and not be able to understand how to break things down, or how to start on just one thing.

      If the option is available to you, I definitely recommend finding a therapist that you work well with. My therapist has done a great deal to help me learn to battle my shame and guilt, and to help organize priorities.

      There are also some great books that can be helpful, including “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD” by Russell Barkley, “Journeys through ADDulthood” by Sari Solden (I found this one especially helpful for some of those feelings of guilt and shame), and “Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Program” by Steven Safren et al.

    • #43475
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user wana be me in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      I am just joining these groups this is my first post. But bburgastros82 really hit home for me. I was never diagnosed figured it out on my own late in life (over 40, now I’m over 55) and have been trying to do it alone since, but the guilt, shame, anxiety and depression are all now to much.
      I have long moments (hours-days) of ‘frozen’ as you call it. Because I am in a very ADHD non-compatible environment (so I have learned) as I am self-employed, no family, children or even close neighbors. For 30 years I just worked 24-7 to keep ahead of the shadows that haunted me when I stopped and let them catch up. At 55 I am too physically and mentally tired to out run them. And I am forever feeling over whelmed.
      I agree that just getting up and doing a small task sometimes helps break the feeling, and I am learning that in a day or 2 it will usually pass and I will be back to my usual over-achiever self. But I must figure out how to control the feeling that I am ‘not worthy’ of a vacation, or a minutes rest, that reading a book in the middle of the day is lazy and I should always be doing something.
      I agree Penny’s ideas are good and usually help me, but I find I start to hyperfocus on making the lists and deciding when and how to do everything and then it all still takes 10x longer than it should. And I find a new way to be frustrated.
      No real point to this post… just saying your not alone.

    • #43478
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user amusicmom in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      You are not alone, nor “crazy” as I have felt at times. I can relate to a lot of what you and the others have said. I am 48, diagnosed with adhd at 45. And a general anxiety disorder. Been dealing with major depression lately as I am now separated after 23 years of marriage. Oh, well. I have a new therapist to work with my upcoming challenges, and a pretty decent psychiatrist. He takes the time to listen and ask questions when he sees me struggle.

      Hang in there, and get more support around you. Its okay to be paralyzed at times…just be aware, and take one thing at a time. There will always be laundry. So don’t feel guilty.

      Also check out flylady – she has some great advice for 15 minutes at a time.

    • #49996

      Boy can I relate, especially lately. I’ll be 65 soon, and I feel less motivated all the time, it seems. Over the years I’ve had lots of interests, and what I seem to do is work fairly hard to reach a certain level of competency and then I lose interest. To make matters worse, I have a good friend who is the complete opposite. She’ll develop an interest, and work at it daily, really honing her skills. Not only that, she seems to have things that interest her forever. I’m so envious.

      First, I feel like I just don’t have enough energy. I can sit and dream (or write) about the things I want to accomplish. I can get very enthusiastic for a short time, but soon the “sameness” takes over, and the next thing I know I’m onto something else. For instance, I thought I would enjoy photography, and I did! But then I got tired of actually carrying a camera everywhere and constantly feeling like I had to be on the lookout for something to shoot. I’m a pretty good artist, and somehow I actually managed to stick with colored pencil long enough to complete a number of drawings that I’m actually proud of. But gradually I’ve backed off from that. Next I wanted to learn water color, and I got a start. My husband even got me some very nice paints for Christmas that I’ve never even opened!! The girlfriend I mentioned above decided she wanted to try painting with acrylics. Well, I have some training so I helped her, and now she’s painting almost daily and getting quite good! Meanwhile I’m doing nothing.

      We both have horses and enjoy riding. I even managed to start my yearling (now 14) so that I could be the first one to ride him. She hasn’t exactly done that, but she’s been interested in working with horses for years and has gotten quite good at it. I have enough knowledge and talent, but it’s not something that interests me because it’s so repetitive. Still, I wish I could have that kind of discipline and was able to enjoy it. I still love to ride, and I have my horse in training. I take a lesson on him once a week, and he’s amazing, and we’re doing great together. Most people would want to show, but not me.

      And now I have this wonderful young dog. There was a time when I would have had him in all kinds of classes, but recently I dropped out of beginning obedience because it was a fairly long drive (about 50 minutes) each way, and meant my husband and I were getting home kind of late (for us). In the past I was able to find classes during the afternoon or within a short distance from home, but I’m not motivated enough to go out in the evening. But another friend drives over an hour for her classes and they start at 7:30 p.m.! I feel like such a loser, and so limited by inability to find the drive, energy and stick to it attitude my other friends have.

      Right now it’s 8:30 a.m., and as is typical, I’m starting my day in a fog. I can waste a couple of hours just sitting at the table reading emails and writing to friends, etc. I was prescribed a generic Adderall, which is basically amphetamine, and that seems to help get me going. But why wouldn’t it; it’s a stimulant.

      I’m just about ready to ask for a low dose antidepressant, but I can’t even see a therapist until September because there are no openings. Not only that, they keep giving me generics which don’t work.

      And now I’m just about over the worst cold sore EVER!!! It was huge, and I’ve never had anything like it. They say stress can get them going, but how can you not be stressed with something like that?!

      Sorry this is so long and rambling, and I realize I’m just venting. I’d love to talk to a therapist now; not months from now.

    • #50420
      Old LADDy

      I’m right there with the OP. I can do anything for others but nothing to do for myself. The only thing that helped was joining classes that were a commitment and short term with a fixed time so I saw them as a duty – as though I would let others down if I couldn’t attend. But that doesn’t really cut it for changing that fundamental ability to prioritise yourself that mist people seem to do.

      I think this trait maybe comes under the “seeing how others can do things better but failing to act on it” so – when you see a useless filing system and know how to fix it but can’t actually get around to doing it?

      No idea of solutions for this issue but I guess that’s what we’re here for!

    • #50423

      Here’s something I forgot about. After my lengthy rant, I finally had a day where I woke up and felt pretty good. I wasn’t groggy and I wasn’t depressed. My brother happened to call that morning, and he said the same thing happens to him. It’s such a roller coaster at times.

      Meanwhile, I managed to get an appointment with a therapist next week, and of course, now I’m feeling okay. I’m not even sure what I’ll say to her.

    • #50429
      Old LADDy

      That’s good news Annie about the therapist. Dont dismiss the drugs though as our condition demands them I think. The Adderall doesn’t get you going because it’s a stimulant it gets you going because it clears your head so you can think straight.
      There was a great programme about it here in the UK on BBC. Not sure if you can access BBC on catchup? The programme showed how the drugs work. I’m sure there’s more info on here as well.

      • #50430

        I know I’ve read that about stimulants, and they do seem to help. I have to be pretty careful because it doesn’t take much before I’m shaky! Even an extra cup of coffee can end up making me feel bad. My doctor prescribed 10 mg, but I cut that in half, and it seems to be about right. Thanks for your input!

    • #63370

      Yes, I can relate with this COMPLETELY. Sounds very much like my life. You aren’t alone!

    • #63589

      Totally with you there. I work a regular full time job in IT and then have another full time occupation rescuing snakes, so I work all day without a lunch break, then patrol roads for most of the night, and I have two critters at home that need care and attention. It’s a struggle for me to even manage basic household chores. When I THINK I’m going to sit down and eat breakfast, there’s a cat howling as loudly as he can for me to just sit down with him and a tortoise scrabbling at his door begging to either be hand fed or go for a walk. If by some miracle I actually have a few free minutes, it’s almost impossible to rise above the overwhelmed thing and actually do anything productive. I think that’s just how ADD works. I’ve heard that it’s easier with treatment, for those who can afford it, though, so if you have insurance, you might see about talking to a doctor about meds or counseling.

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