August 27, 2019 at 10:23 pm #126632
Hello, how are you? This is my maiden voyage into the ADDitude forum. I am a woman in my early fifties and was diagnosed with ADHD about seven years ago.
So, just wondering, is self-sabotage a “thing” amongst adults with ADHD? I have it down to a fine art.
August 28, 2019 at 8:07 am #126641
Good morning. This is also my maiden voyage on this site. Welcome, Lyn. 🙂 I can’t speak for other adults with ADHD but I’m right there with ya. I’m 55, was diagnosed about 15 years ago, have had symptoms since early childhood. Self-sabotage is my middle, first, and last name. If the behaviors, foods, medications, people, jobs, or whatever, are good for me, I’ll usually do the exact opposite, to some degree. My guess is that there are a lot of adults with self sabotaging behaviors. Good luck on your journey. 🙂
September 17, 2019 at 11:20 am #128199
I am right alongside all of these comments! I have had a life of self-sabotage. From the spasms of organizing and filing papers down to the last shred “there now, I’m going to KEEP it organized” to meaning to do things, become disciplined and have ‘structure’ (one of my past doctor’s words.) I have been shouted at by bosses, been written up because I failed a subscriber, been confronted by my employers because I don’t show up to company events, on and on. I feel that I cannot even function as a human. Relationships have failed, unless I have been blatantly used by the individual: who’s going to part ways with someone with such low self-esteem?
I have been diagnosed as both ADD and Bipolar type 2. I am determined to be the person I know I can be, instead of the ‘very nice person’ going nowhere.
August 28, 2019 at 9:11 am #126647
I think there has to be intent to sabotage, even if only subconsciously, to be self-sabotage. Otherwise, it’s your struggles and challenges and neurology impacting your functioning in certain situations. Using the term “self-sabotage” is laying blame on yourself, and the blame and shame only makes everything worse.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
August 29, 2019 at 5:09 am #126726
Yes I agree. Before my ADHD diagnosis I believed there was something wrong with me, why did I always seem to mess up, why did I always get things wrong, or make the wrong decisions, or just generally cause more trouble for myself.
Now with the diagnosis I can see that a lot of what I thought were my ‘choices,’ were actually not and I was moving through life in the way my brain knew how without even realising. I was only messing up in the neurotypical world because I didn’t fit in with it. But in the neurodiverse world my decisions make sense, my reasoning makes sense.
Our limitations and differences shouldn’t be another reason for us to pour scorn on ourselves. We’ve done that for far too long.
August 31, 2019 at 10:02 am #126842
Hmmmmm, food for thought. Thanks for your comments. It’s like Goddess Michelle is my twin. However, if I understand correctly, Penny suggests that even though I am consciously making the opposite choice from that which benefits me, it’s neurologically difficult for me to make the beneficial choice. I am curious about KitanasFan’s comments. I could have written that exact same first paragraph. Could you please elaborate on, or refer me to research about, our decisions and reasoning making sense in the neurodiverse world. Is there any way I can develop a healthy mindset in order to become healthier physically, mentally/academically, socially and spiritually. Since I am neurodiverse, how do I choose to care for myself instead of choosing the opposite?
I would be truly ecstatic if I could follow a routine, delighted if I become disciplined and set aside the time required to exercise my dodgy knee, read my Bible, walk 10000 steps a day, even eat properly. Is this possible?
- This reply was modified 5 months, 4 weeks ago by Anni Lyn.
August 31, 2019 at 2:46 pm #126853
Because we’re different, we’re constantly berating ourselves for not doing what is expected of us. But what is expected are the rules according to a non-ADHD world. I think if we stop being so hard on ourselves and realise that we have limitations, and we can’t help it if we don’t get everything done.
Instead of setting all of these tasks because we think we should be able to get them done, just aim for one or two. The 10,000 steps thing is also a myth that was a Japanese marketing campaign. the 10,000 ideal was plucked out of the air because it sounded good. So that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about 😉
Worrying about not getting everything done, often leads to us not getting ANYTHING done. Which makes us feel worse. Maybe set aside a couple of days a week when you’ll cook a special meal for yourself, so then you don’t feel so bad on the day’s you cheat a little. I always find that lists help me a lot.
But above all, just go easy on yourself.
August 31, 2019 at 11:46 am #126844
I was diagnosed only a few months ago. I would say I have the same tendencies to a lesser extent. Self-sabotage, in my opinion, could be a direct reflection of our apprehension at doing things we’re not comfortable doing. The overwhelm which many experience with ADHD could be enough to make anyone sabotage things for themselves. However, none of this is our fault. Our brains prefer chaos to stillness.
Another interesting point is many people with ADHD have comorbid disorders along with the condition. One of them is known as ODD(Oppositional Defiant Disorder). In laymen’s terms, any type of authority assigning tasks or being told what to do etc will result in the individual doing the complete opposite. This in a way is a form of self-sabotage. However, so many things can be associated with ADHD, like anxiety disorders, depression, etc.
September 16, 2019 at 9:50 am #127705
Our brains prefer chaos to stillness. So true. Thank you for that.
September 16, 2019 at 12:50 pm #127742
I literally have felt this my whole life!
I even said this in a job interview the other day.
Backstory, I was diagnosed at 46–I’ll be 48 in 2 months. Everything became crystal clear as to why I do what I’ve done my whole life.
Also, my comorbidity is Tourette’s (diagnosed in the 1970s at the age of 6), and now I believe OCD, and Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria.
But, I’ve done well in life, despite the challenges…i.e. a full military career, now retired, and still succeeding in an ever learning IT career in civilian life.
September 3, 2019 at 9:01 am #126892
I have been diagnosed almost 10 years now with ADHD and a shorter amount with Bi-polar. This is the 2nd time first time with ADHD was when I was 6 this time I was 50.
I like this topic
I like getting analytical because that’s how I figure things out. Some call it pysco-bable but, I think it’s only that when no action is suggested or taken on the topic.
For me, self-sabotage is comfort food. I am in the middle of a project I naturally get bored cause I am ADHD and it’s easier to just say “eh, I have had enough of this” instead of working through the challenge and ending up with the results we were seeking. It’s hard cause there are no guarantees that we will succeed and we are already comfortable in failing or not completing projects( Same Thing)
My challenge is I hate being told what to do, even if it’s me saying it.I work time through it a lot but sometimes it gets the better of me.
When starting new projects I try to write down what I want the end result to be and then work from there if I can. One step at a .time.
I write music so I will start with a mood first then chords and melody that fit that mood.
WHAT NEVER WORKS
Just sitting down with no thought and completing a piece of music. It may start out like that but if I don’t stop and think about what I am doing I end up with zero results every time. Mr. Stubborn at it again.
September 16, 2019 at 11:57 am #127727
“My challenge is I hate being told what to do, even if it’s me saying it.”
It does sometimes feel like there’s a second person in my brain who is intentionally trying to sabotage me, and I hate that guy. I recently came into a lot of money due to the fact that a company I worked for a long time ago, and which I had stock in, got sold–I’m talking many tens of thousands of dollars, which was a godsend because I was totally broke. And while my friends who had worked with me at the time were celebrating, I just got depressed because I knew I was going to just spend it all, and there seemed to be nothing I could do about it.
And yet, whenever my brain (or a family member) said “hey, while you still have a good half of your money, please, put it all away in this account over here that you can’t touch and then you won’t be tempted to spend it all,” suddenly I became the other guy and I’m like “Don’t tell me what to do! If my money is in an account where I can’t touch it, that means I don’t even really have money! What’s the point of that?”
And so now practically all the money’s gone. I didn’t even get any fancy new stuff out of it. It’s just gone.
Gone, just like my writing career, my relationships, my other career as a QA Engineer, my connection with my friends, my band …
It’s weird, because therapists say there is a concept of “locus of control” in psychology. As a younger person, I often blamed the world for the mistakes I was making due to my ADD. “Oh, why are they so uptight about being to work EXACTLY at 9 a.m.?” Or “The point is to find bugs in the software, not to just make a lot of documentation about it.” Or “I paid quadruple the credit card bill three months ago, so why do I have a late fee now?”
Now that I’ve been diagnosed, I realize that I was mad at the world for their very rational and understandable opinions on my work and behavior. People DO need signifiers to let them know you care and let them know you’re doing the work and that you’re meeting your obligations, etc. (Except the credit card people–they can go to hell.)
So I have gotten better about not placing the “locus of control” outside of myself. I am the one making my destiny here–and yet I don’t feel like the locus of control is internal, either. It feels like there is a gremlin inside my brain that knows JUST when to tweak things to my disadvantage at a moment when I’m focusing on something else.
Oops, and he’s at it again, because I’m writing on an ADD forum and I’m actually supposed be working….
September 4, 2019 at 11:05 am #127003
My name is Sharon. I am 51 years old. I too self sabotage. Mostly with my education pursuits. Everybody says “your so smart!” I would say “if I were so smart why am I so broke.” I would be full steam ahead then I just hit a wall and I just sink in depression. I used to write blogs once again hit that wall then BAM !!!
I was so sick of this getting in the way. I would do ANYTHING to climb over it for ever. So I am new here to this site and I took the test for ADHD and I scored 100%. I was so shocked. This was the wall I could not climb. I going to see my psychiatrist tomorrow. I hope that he understands that I need this.
September 5, 2019 at 8:55 am #127047
Yes. It’s horrible. I spent the last 10yrs. Rebuilding my credit and finance’s. In 1yr. I’ve managed again to destroy it all. Broke Busted and Disgusted. Ahhhhh🙊🙉🙈
September 11, 2019 at 1:54 am #127367
It appears I am not alone. I hadn’t thought of the defiance aspect. I do tend to resist when I’m pushed. When something is suggested, when I am encouraged, whole different ball game. Being told equals resistance, suggestions and encouragement equal cooperation.
Apprehension I well relate to. Failure being my comfort zone, same.
I appreciate the comments each of you have made.
I trust you have strong support networks around you.
Take care 🙂
September 16, 2019 at 9:34 am #127703
Hi! I’m a self-sabateur too! Yep, life-long member…even way before my diagnosis a couple of years ago. I just saw this post pop up in my email updates, and I have to say that it may well be a thing. I can’t say for certain among the men, but with so many women now getting a diagnosis later in life, we spent years trying to cover up all of our struggles in an effort to fit into the mold of what a girl/woman is expected to be by society! For me, that came with a strong streak of perfectionism, which means that if I don’t perceive a definite successful outcome to a situation, I avoid it. I stick my head in the sand and procrastinate! It’s a huge source of shame, and it starts with my personal shame. Where is the exit sign in all of that? I have self-destructed so many times now that I feel like a tired, withered phoenix bird.
September 16, 2019 at 11:54 am #127725
This is my first post here. I am 51 was was sort of diagnosed only 3 months ago. I say sort of because it was during my daughter’s evaluation that I realized what I had suspected for years and the Psychiatrist said as much. She 100% has it, it is genetic and my husband definitely does not have it so…
To The_crud_on_your_shoe: What you said about perfectionism I could have written it. This is me 100%. I’m a terrible housekeeper because if I feel I don’t have enough time to do a chore perfectly I won’t start. It’s awful. I always feel like a lazy slob because of my house. I won’t let things get out of hand and will force myself to clean even if it isn’t perfect in the end but it takes awhile to get to that point. I also am the worst procrastinator. Over the years I’ve tried to deal with it but no amount of wanting to do things makes me do it. I’ve even purchased a few books on procrastination and procrastinated with reading them ( I think I got about half a chapter read in one book – ugh).
To feathersflight: Everything you said I can relate to. Every word.
I do feel shame and I feel guilty because I keep failing and also because one of my daughters has it and is so much like me. It’s scary. Her struggles are so much like mine but at least she knows as a teenager and we can get her help. Self-sabotage is something we both do. I know we don’t intentionally do it but it happens and then the shame comes because we made the choices that got us there.
I have done ok with my career but I know I could have advanced much more if I didn’t procrastinate so much. At my age advancing is limited now but still possible so I need to get help with finding ways to be more productive and staying on task. Does anyone have any resources to help with this?
September 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm #127735
I try to sometimes flip my ADD problems on their heads and use it to my advantage. It doesn’t work with everything, but it DOES work with housekeeping. Sometimes.
Like, normally I have a HUGE problem with finishing tasks. But in the case of housekeeping, I have a problem with the perfectionism thing you discuss. I get it into my brain that I have SO MUCH to do that doing just one little part of it is worthless.
But then I flip it on my head and say “hey, you don’t have to FINISH the job today, you can just clean the bathtub and do the rest later.” Normally this is kind of a bad thing, because you can’t just do part of your taxes and leave the rest for later. But with housecleaning, if I AWARD myself the ability to do just part of it and not have to finish, it’s like a treat. And I actually get some stuff done because my ADD brain is too confused to know which part of the equation to be stubborn about, the work part or the slacking off part. And so if I do just part of it, it means that later maybe I just have to sweep and mop, because the tub is already done. And then if guests come over it’s like “okay, so the floor wasn’t swept, but at least they didn’t get an infection from using the sink because at least that part was done!”
September 16, 2019 at 10:08 am #127711
Hi Anni Lyn,
Oh I definitely think it’s a thing and not just you. But we have to redefine what “self-sabotage” really means and where it comes from.
For me, sometimes I’m just sick of trying to fit into a mold, so sometimes I refuse to follow certain routines I need in order to “function” in a neurotypical world out of rebellion. I KNOW it will land me in hot water, but I will do it anyway because I’m just so frustrated.
Sometimes I’m trying to learn a new routine to help keep my house clean without waiting until it’s a total disaster before I explode into manic mode… but then I try to change too much too fast and fail at it anyways because I tried even thought I *knew* I was biting off more than I could chew… because dang it I wanted to be “normal”.
The point is… while we may not intend to truly “self-sabotage”, we still make choices sometimes (for a variety of reasons) that we know potentially sets us up for failure. We know the possible, if not probable, outcome of those choices, but we make them anyway…. because to heck with logic. 😉
September 16, 2019 at 12:05 pm #127731
I repeat this mantra all the time to myself: “The perfect is the enemy of the good!”
I know it sounds trite, like it’s not NEARLY enough of a tool to help me stop this bad and self-destructive behavior. I should really find a better tool, something more perfect than just using a mantra…. wait, no, “the perfect is the enemy of the good!” And starting with this phrase is certainly better than starting with nothing at all.
And if you say it a lot, all the time, then it becomes natural. At least, it works for me. And so now I’ll be in the middle of doing dishes or something and I can say “Do I really need to rent a wet-vac to get my carpet clean? THE PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD! I should just use a regular vacuum that I actually HAVE and that I can use right now so I’ll actually get it done.”
September 16, 2019 at 10:49 am #127716
For me, it’s often related to executive disfunction. I know when I need to get up in the morning. Yet, I lay there thinking, “I need to get up. I really should get up. Why am I closing my eyes? Why am I not moving my body? I need to get up. But I’m still tired and don’t want to…” And then I get to work half an hour late because I didn’t get out of bed. I know I need to clean my kitchen, I might even want to do it, but it’s not fun and I can’t convince myself to actually do it.
But sometimes it’s just stubbornness. It’s what other people have said: a desire for chaos, a dislike of being told what to do and a kneejerk reaction to do the opposite. It’s a desire for control over our own lives, which we might not always have. Why should I do something I don’t want to do? Maybe we don’t feel like we have a lot of control over our lives, because our minds cause that chaos? So we try to do things to control it, but that just makes it worse.
I’m still poking at this — I also fight depression and anxiety, and I was only recently diagnosed ADHD (inattentive) at 35, so I have a lot to unpack. But self-sabotage is something I struggle with constantly. It was nice to see this topic pop up, because it’s so nice to know I’m not alone.
September 16, 2019 at 11:47 am #127723
I’m not alone!! I am the Queen of self-sabotage. If I wrote down all the times I have done this, I would have an biggest book ever!
I am 63 and diagnosed about 5 years ago. I have often wondered what would have happened if I found out sooner? But we can’t do that. One of the good things I did was go to school and become an IT tech in my 40’s. I thrived in the chaos geek world because there were basically no rules at the time. Desk jobs shuffling paper were never my friend. I would get in trouble all the time.
I now work in a cardiac ICU as a clerk/gofer. Obviously, chaos is a daily adventure. This makes my brain happy.
One big problem recently is that I have diabetes and need to check my blood sugar several times a day with poking my finger. No amount of alarms, notes, sledgehammers whatever helped. I KNOW I need to do this, yet my brain would not help. Thank the Lord they have sensors now that I can check whenever I want. No finger sticks. My glucose has been at a much better level. It’s techy so my brain loves it! I tell people my husband got it so he can track when I go to a yarn or quilt store and zapp me to keep me out of trouble! I won’t go into how many projects I start that never get finished.
So, to answer the question, YES it is very real and hard to manage by yourself. I have no answers but reading what other people do is very helpful.
Gillian (Queen of Self Sabotage)
September 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm #127734
Fellow self-saboteur here! People often say that I am SO much more keen to help other people with their problems (often complex and challenging ones) and yet why do I not keep my own life in check? I think a lot of it comes from low self esteem and maybe not feeling that your own needs are important, or deserving of your effort, and a little bit of the novelty of other people’s problems probably being different to your own, and probably even a bit of the instant gratification you can get when someone thanks you for helping them. I think a way of making progress with this is to firstly give yourself a break, realise that other people’s expectations and standards do not have to be your own (although some are a bit unavoidable such as your health and finances of course), and work on finding yourself important. For me even before I found out about ADHD (only last year at 32 – this thread has made me at least s bit grateful that this is younger than many others diagnosed as adults (although I have managed to sabotage one marriage already 😂)) I had found that guided meditations from YouTube were very helpful for anxiety and depression (as I was treated for since I was 13 and to some extent still present, but a lot of the symptoms transpire as part of ADHD such as demotivation and disinterest in required tasks OR potentially because of it such as low self esteem due to seemingly constant failings at things other people find simple, and receiving criticism as such).
I believe that meditation is great for reprogramming some of your attitudes and it certainly helps to overcome anxiety and get better coping mechanisms for meltdown or hyped up overwhelmed feelings. It will never fix certain things but it can help you especially when guided, to have a word with yourself internally and work out what is really important to you. It can help to ask questions such as ‘what do you really consider to be a marker of success’… anything from visualising yourself in a graduation gown, to picturing yourself a calmer and more healthy person, who has paid their bills on time and is fit and well.
It can be hard sometimes (possibly especially for ADHD people) to get away from cliché definitions of success that look like something out of 80s stock photos, at first you can even find yourself picturing some Jerry Macguire yuppie figure with a suit on and money raining upon them, so you need to go deeper to see what YOUR definition of progress and eventual goals might be.
I’ve given up my corporate career in big businesses because you know what, it needed sabotaging, my priorities have changed. I used to earn quite a bit of money and I spent it all on just trying to survive, rarely having anything to show for it but a frazzled stressed brain, a body feeling just all round ill, and still never paying my bills on time. I’ve decided that a new goal is to just stick up for myself, do things that are truly manageable (and that includes holding off debt collectors for a while) and STOP trying to change everything all at once. I’m considering a lot of things to be experimental. I’ve taken on some temporary jobs and lost them, but it didn’t matter because I told myself I am only going to live in the short term but I am still going to do my best. I am shockingly bad at being on time and that is a problem for a 9-6 job. So I’m changing my goals having got to know myself and told myself that I deserve better than to feel like I’m failing at something that is set for me by others. I’m doing dog sitting on the side, I’m chasing up money that I never got round to claiming or asking for, and I’m looking into doing a little care work with people who have learning disabilities, because as a person with albeit mild ADHD and high empathy/intuition, it might be a job that helps me to thrive and not just get by. God knows maybe I’ll even feel like I’m happy to go to work, but that has worn off quickly in my experience and then the self sabotage thing happens usually starting with lateness and ending with anxiety and stress and feelings of failure and sickness.
September 16, 2019 at 12:56 pm #127744
Wow! Like many others here, I could have written this post myself. I am 50 years old and was diagnosed as a teenager.
Even though I was a certified special education teacher and I know all the tricks and helpful hints I still have struggled with self sabotage all my life. It’s so frustrating.
I just want to be able to finish something and/or be able to achieve something myself with out screwing it up, as usual!!
September 16, 2019 at 1:08 pm #127750
This post particularly the phrase “self-sabotage” really clicked with me this morning. So I am posting for the first time ever. Self-Sabotage is what I used to say my problem was before my boyfriend (now husband) encouraged me to take seriously several sets of behaviors that are all related to ADD. I was diagnosed as a child (7yrs), but my mother didn’t take action on it. She was against medication, and I was gifted and could hack it in school (now kids like me are called “twice exceptionals – 2e’s”. I don’t know what jerk came up with that term but I wish they’d consulted those of us with it so they could understand how mean and ironic that categorical label feels). So I went through all of prep school and college believing I just self-sabotage, and that ADD is not a big deal. I didn’t achieve the major thing I wanted to achieve.
The thing that I think everyone seems to underplay in this condition is the challenge of emotional disregulation. I think the emotional intensity and rejection sensitivity dysphoria is a major mechanism of action behind many of my biggest mistakes – some of omission (those most often cause my major problems), but also some of ill-reasoned action, or losing my cool.
Many of us seem to be over-drinkers, over-eaters, over-spenders. There are others who don’t have ADD but have addiction who recover from over spending, eating, drinking etc. These folks are usually in the bar or a 12-step programs. Key to recovery in those programs is service to others, humility, and taking one day at a time. Everyone has a sponsor too.
It’s valuable advice for people like us. Right action, but just one day at a time. If I think about more than one day at once it can become very overwhelming to think about life – there are too many patterns of behavior/mistakes to overcome. The opportunity to hash through something that happened with someone else who understands what it’s like and figure out the right way forward is very valuable. Having an opportunity to laugh is very important cause much of this stuff is down-right ridiculous – especially the second time you think it over.
There is also, I think, a spiritual dimension to all of this. Being a human being for starts and that combined with unique neurology (ADHD) can result in some major mess ups. I think there is something in me that wants to confirm what I intuit others believe about me – that I can’t manage it, that I’m no good, that I’m not talented etc. So yeah there is the ADD and there is the deeper stuff of being human.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by englishsoutherner.
September 16, 2019 at 1:29 pm #127757
I am 62 and have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but so much of what has been written here applies to me. Self-sabotage, procrastination, and more procrastination, super focused on things to the exclusion of what is going on around me. My kids laughed at me as never finishing any projects. I have boxes of unfinished sewing projects, crafts and books bought for other crafts and nothing completed. I feel like a failure. Someone mentioned housework. Unless I have impending company, I can stare at housework and go outside and ignore it. I need a deadline that is about to expire to get anything completed. Once in a while I surprise my self and finish something!
But ask me to help someone else and I am all for it. I just have no self motivation. Very sad.
Thanks for all the responses here. Very helpful.
September 16, 2019 at 1:43 pm #127758
yes i do this too, mostly with jobs i apply for, i think oh this one sounds perfect and then i get the job and then the day before the job starts i tell myself i don’t think this one is for me i will wait for a better one. hence i don’t have a job and the ones i do take and start are terrible jobs and i end up quitting because they are such awful jobs.
September 16, 2019 at 1:59 pm #127759
Like you I am new here and have been diagnosed in my 50’s. As much as I have hated to admit it, fear of failure has always been a huge issue for me. I now recognize that it has manifested in self-sabotage on occasion, probably much more often than I care to admit.
I think I read that it is a thing.
September 16, 2019 at 9:04 pm #127819
Cat Woman DoParticipant
It’s taken me a while to contribute bc my jaw has been on the FLOOR! I’m 50 years old, diagnosed just a couple of years ago which helped me piece together all the issues but also mourn for the years I’ve lost in not formally knowing I had ADD although I suspected. After reaching and watching webinars & hearing all primary, secondary, tertiary etc impact of the blockage, I couldn’t relate more to the insecurity, social anxiety, EVERYTHING. And now to read that there are other people facing the challenges of self-sabotaging I’m overwhelmed. In my case, I truly can not get a grip on doing things I do not understand. I do not know how to start or end assignments. I’m currently consulting and looking for full-time work which is so hard as someone with ADD. I spend countless hours turning my wheels and not making any progress and suddenly the day is over . I’m constantly talking to myself to get a grip but sadly I can not. I am on meds which is great but as you know doesn’t rid you of the disease. And as time goes on the med impact has dissipated. Any advice? Words of encouragement? Virtual highfives?!:)
September 17, 2019 at 12:19 am #127882
well i think we have caught on to something here .. self sabotaging is a symptom of adhd also..
September 17, 2019 at 12:27 pm #128255
The only thing that really seems to (sometimes) works for me is sticking to itty bitty tiny goals at first.
I am a writer so when I am not feeling like writing or self sabotaging myself—- I set a goal to write for 10 minutes. That’s it. And if I achieve that goal I celebrate!!
Most times when my timer goes off at the end of 10 minutes, I keep writing for longer. But if I quit after 10 minutes I still celebrate. I try not to beat myself up about it so much too and I tell myself that the reason I am feeling so much resistance is because I am on the right track (it wouldn’t be so scary or I wouldn’t be so fearful if this wasn’t moving me towards changing for the better!) and therefore I must push through the emotions and the fear.
It’s very difficult and I fail often.
Recently, I am trying to notice my mind starting to self sabotage so I can reason it out and change my actions.
Best of luck to all!! Thank you for speaking up!
I hate to see so many people struggle with this too, but it feels good to know I am not a freak of nature, just human & trying to do better!
September 17, 2019 at 12:31 pm #128258
My name is Dan and I am 57 and was diagnosed a few years ago with ADHD and yes…I have been sabotaging and punishing myself for years. I have been told by many that I’m way too hard on myself, and I have very low self esteem nowadays. I’d do anything to be a “normie” and be able to get over minor setbacks without going “dark”. I’ve had a pretty successful career but I recently sold my company because I was spent. Needed a change. I got change alright…I’m having trouble finding work and I’ll do just about anything to have a reason to get up each morning. All of this idle time is bad for me. I know I did the right thing to sell my company, but now I’m ruminating if I sold it too fast or for too little. I often believe that I deserve this way of life and it’s hard to climb out of the gutter. I’m married but separated for a year now and living in a tiny studio apartment like some twentysomething. I own my house free and clear where my wife lives, I have no debt and plenty of money in my bank and retirement accounts but I’m the loneliness and saddest I’ve ever been in my life. I am blessed with good health, and many other things but yet I cant seem to enjoy any of it. I’m afraid I’ll never learn to be happy or have close friends again…
September 17, 2019 at 9:11 pm #128350
Cat Woman DoParticipant
I’m sorry you’re going through all of that. I really relate to so much of what you’ve shared. Being out of work myself has been such a struggle. You should be proud that you had a successful career and likely have marketable talent. Not everyone can say that. Not sure if it’s possible but maybe if you look at the tiny studio as if you are a twentysomething in the sense that you’re embarking on a fresh new stage of life where anything is possible…finding activities that make you happy, and going to meet up like events where you could make new friends…I know it might sound like malarkey but just like others have noted it’s easier to try to help others than help ourselves… good luck getting yourself off the ground!
September 18, 2019 at 1:30 am #128373
Glad to see this post. I am 52, diagnosed 3 months ago. My diagnosis clarified a good portion of my life and decisions I’ve made. I appreciate reading your stories and ways you all are dealing with this aspect of ADHD.
September 18, 2019 at 12:37 pm #128442
Wow. I just came back from a walk where I realized that I feel afraid of myself. Afraid to start something. Afraid to not start something. Afraid that if I start something I won’t get it done and will just go in another direction tomorrow or later today.
I’m worried about taking too much time to write this cause it’s taking me away from what I was ‘supposed to be doing’. And I’ve never written before cause I’m so caught up in making it perfect, making it original and on and on…
It’s so damn hard to stay on the straight and narrow when my brain is weaving and wobbling. When I have a “good day” (read productive), I get on a little high and dream up all the things I can do now that I feel so much better… Till tomorrow or the next day when I wonder what the hell was I thinking?
I’m 52, diagnosed at 45 with Inattentive type – often wished I was on the Hyperactive side so I could get more done! Yes, you’re welcome to laugh.
I really appreciate the 10 minute suggestion – I’m also a writer and need to stop beating myself up for not sitting down to write cause I’m scared I won’t get it done or not done well enough! I also love the idea of doing parts of stuff – the bathtub, the dishes, etc. and celebrating – dropping the idea of the spotless anything. And I love the line, “I actually get some stuff done because my ADD brain is too confused to know which part of the equation to be stubborn about, the work part or the slacking off part.”
My suggestion for when depression hits… get outside. I love the forest and the beach (especially on a rainy day so I can scream, cry or talk to myself and there’s no one around to hear). But sometimes it’s great to walk down the street smiling at people – especially when you don’t feel like smiling – try it, it actually makes you and them feel better! Disclaimer, I am Canadian and live near a small city where it’s safe, and even expected to smile at people on the street. Regardless though, what do we have to lose?
Thank you to all who have contributed! And to all who’ve thought about it but put it off or told themselves something rude about not having anything worth sharing, that’s ok too. Thank goodness for forums like this to help us realize we’re not alone!
September 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm #128449
Wow! I have just gone back and read all the responses again! I feel like I have hit the jackpot with all the information shared. I read me in so much of the posts. I read the “predominantly inattentive” term. Haven’t heard it before, so Googled the term and read on Wikipedia. The list of symptoms for an adult was like a very apt description of me.
I feel for all of us learning or being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD at a later in life stage. How it answers so many questions or explains so many things.
Thanks to all who have shared their story. You have impacted my life in a positive way. I now have a better understanding of myself and know I’m not alone. 🙂
September 18, 2019 at 3:26 pm #127726
I relate to this SO MUCH! Sometimes I think I should just ask someone else what they would do in my situation and do that instead of whatever it is that I’m thinking, because I know I will end up hurting my efforts with whatever decision I make.
I have only been recently diagnosed as having ADHD (I am 25. Since I never “struggled in school” = had bad grades, then there was no reason to believe I had ADHD. But as an adult, my symptoms have magnified without the structure of school, routine, etc.).
Something I recently found that has sort of helped me with habits, is the Gretchen Rubin Four Tendencies Quiz – I think few of us would be surprised to find we are the “Rebel” type: https://gretchenrubin.com/2015/01/ta-da-the-launch-of-my-quiz-on-the-four-tendencies-learn-about-yourself/. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
September 20, 2019 at 6:48 pm #128692
Oh-my-goodness! It’s like we are all family and realizing for the first time that we are related. So refreshing. 😊 I too am 50, diagnosed 15 years ago with Bipolar 2 and ADHD. Successfully managed with meds, however my ADHD seems to be worse and worse as the years go by. Self-sabotage? Uhhh YEA!
September 23, 2019 at 11:52 am #128775
I used to think, People could read my mind. They would know how bad I felt like just by looking at me.
Come to find out I would act out then people would really know what kind of problems i have.
I decided one day to keep my mouth shut. With my type of personality, I had a hard time not filling in empty spaces, mostly conversation but I decided one day instead of filling in the space I am going to keep quiet. No one would know what I am thinking if I just kept my mouth shut where most people would find it appropriate to do so.
What I found out was how to listen, keep quiet and observe. There was nothing I can do about my past but forgive myself but I am committed to silence when I know I am bored and have nothing to contribute.
If we just start putting one foot in front of the other today, do the next right thing(If you don’t know what that is, ask) we can start completing things one thing at a time. No one needs to know about our past.
This whole pep talk is gonna make people uncomfortable cause you know I am right. But what would you do with yourself if you decided to give up the drama of our ADHD life and try to just not stand out so much
I read through many of these responses including my earlier one just think we need to learn to forgive ourself and move on to our next dilemma.
I share the throne of King of self-sabotage. I need to tell a different story now, I think I am bored of that one.
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