“Oh, I Am Very Weary…”
“…Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, my heart is sick of woe.” — Anne Bronte, a woman who seemed to understand
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“…Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, my heart is sick of woe.” — Anne Bronte, a woman who seemed to understand
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22 Comments: “Oh, I Am Very Weary…”
I’m in an interesting position of having partner and 2 skids with ADHD but being so well adapted myself I pass for NT…except I have the exhaustion.
Fortunately my partner knows what it is and does as much as he can to support me, but he curses that the screening tests put me at “subclinical” because I’ve had such a great upbringing and I’ve worked hard. He wonders if I’d have less depression if I could be medicated
Such a good article that gets to the heart of something that i’m sure many of us have been struggling with for years..
I’d only add that fo rme at least is has not only been a struggle not to compare myself to neuraltypicals but actually other people with ADHD or ASD. The worst of it for me was when i was at university and felt like i was struggling so much more than my peers. And worse still i had a close group around me who where either Bi-Polar or undiagnosed ADHD. It wasn’t so much a problem for me to accept that i could not do what NT’s could…but what became a much harder pill to swallow was seeing those undiagnosed peers do so much better…(albiet they also struggled in the process). That made all the feelings of guilt and laziness so much more pronounced and hard to recover from (also didn’t help that those peers where not exactly nice to me at the time). Over time i’ve come to accept that part of this might have been them projecting there undiagnosed ADHD onto me….but either way the effect was the same. I feel depressed and non-functionall all the time as a result and like i will never be able to do the things that i value. I don’t feel like i need any great success or legacy..just more that it would be nice to be able to do something after having put so much work and energy and sacrifice towards investing in that…. and i never seem to be able to escape this great confusion as to why this has been more possible for some of us than others…. what is it that i lack that stops me from bridging that gap? That somone who is even undiagnosed can do regardless… it leads to so much self hate….
The person I’ve always compared myself to (and have always come up short next to) is my sister. Even now in her 80’s, she goes to regular exercise classes and on daily walks with her husband, writes, and has always had the ability to set goals and stick to them completely. But even while I feel this way, I know I’m not thinking clearly about it. For example, you mention several things you do that you enjoy and have no problem keeping up. With me, that’s writing and playing piano, my 2 sources of non-harmful dopamine! If I asked my sister, I’m sure she’d point to those things and others she envies or if not envies, is very aware of. I plug away at both these creative outlets, and while my A.D.D. has kept me from becoming truly great at either (that kind of progress requires consistent growth-producing habits), I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved. Yes, I struggle with the twin facts that I don’t keep sending poems out to try to be published and I don’t invite friends over to hear me play piano, but they are goals I keep in mind and when I keep a goal in mind long enough and it keeps tugging at me, I eventually do something about it. So for me, the answer is to keep knowing what will make me feel a little better about myself, and keep struggling with doing one or two of them every … every other … every third day … or whenever I think of it. And then, really feel good about it! And envy, or comparing my insides to someone else’s outside, is definitely not one of them!!
I can relate to this. While I am not at the age of retirement and am in fact in my early 30’s, I feel tired most of the time recently and I feel that my symptoms are changing from what they used to be. I tend to feel more in a fog and more tired now than I used to. Even things that used to interest me are not that exciting, instead they can often feel like a chore. I also relate to feeling tired doing things that other people find simple. It was so hard for me to understand why I was so capable and had so much ‘potential’ but, things that I thought should be simple were hard for me in a way I couldn’t understand and explain. My older half-sisters seemed to have their lives together and they had determination and drive in excess. I would feel mentally tired after doing the simplest things. I thought that maybe I was lazy but, I also felt that that was wrong somehow. Then I thought was just that I had problems with time management and self-control/motivation. I thought it was because of the inconsistent attention and support that I received as a child. Now I realize it’s just a part of who I am. So, I understand what it’s like to feel like you’ve been trying so hard your whole life and you feel exhausted, sleepy all the time yet you also feel like resting would be lazy.
My ADHD also comes with perfectionism and for me is linked mentally to my ability to keep a house clean and keep up with other people. I feel that I should be productive but, I often feel tired which makes me feel like I am less than others. I only recently have come to the realization that I have ADHD. I also should mention that in addition to my feeling tired and mentally exhausted, I’ve also been avoiding social situations and having more problems with my anxiety. Basically for me the thing that is helping me is realizing that what I am going through right now is actually burnout from working myself so hard without taking time to care for myself. We all need time to rest and recharge and for people with ADHD it can be even more crucial. So, I would suggest trying to practice some self-care. I’ve learned a lot about self-care over the past two years. For me it starts with letting go of things. For example, I didn’t realize what a negative view I had about myself. A lot of the things I thought about myself were on an unconscious level so I didn’t consciously realize that they were there. I can be really hard on myself and my perfectionism plays a role. For example, sitting on the couch and watching T.V. when I feel like there are other things that I could be doing could cause me to start to think those thoughts. It could start with me telling myself that I am just lazy and/or unmotivated and go downhill from there. Basically, there were a lot of negative things that people told me and a lot of negative things that I internalized because I thought that’s how people viewed me. When I started with one negative thing I’d start down this long road of basically putting myself down and telling myself how useless and worthless I am. I just early last year was the first time I realized that I would do this. I didn’t understand how others could use ‘positive self-talk’ when it never seemed to work for me. But, after I realized that I talked to myself so negatively (and I would really tear into myself, let some of those thoughts come to the surface so I could see what I was saying to myself and I was honestly shocked at how vicious I could be) I realized that for me, positive self-talk is basically gently reminding myself of the truth. I had help, I’ve had a longtime friend and longtime roommate who would tell me sometimes that I was really hard on myself and that it hurt her to see me hurt myself and say some of those hurtful things about myself (the things I would sometimes say that would hurt her to hear me say about myself were extremely mild compared to what was going on under the surface but I think she sensed that and how much I was hurting myself, it was a difference of calling someone stupid for what they did and cursing someone out with the most vitriolic words you can imagine). Anyway, with her help and a moment of insight I was able to see how negatively I talked to myself. Then, when those thoughts would come up again I was better able to help myself process them. What I would do is calmly listen to the beginning of those thoughts and then I would stop myself and say no, that’s not true. Here is the truth. For example, if I was feeling that I had done something I thought was inconsiderate then I might start to call myself selfish and proceed on from there. However, knowing myself and hearing from my roommate I have come to the realization that I am rarely selfish. I tend to make my whole life about other people and making them happy. I do have selfish moments and I do reflect a lot and need to change things from time to time. But, on a whole, I am very unselfish despite my stubborn life-long view of myself as being selfish. So, I would tell myself that, what I was thinking wasn’t true and then start listing what I knew to be true. Which is that, while I am not perfect, I do try my best to treat everyone with kindness and understanding. I try to make things easier for others and often shoulder the harder burdens onto myself. I care, and I care a lot. Sometimes I make mistakes but, I am not a selfish person. I can be selfish on occasion but, that does not make me a selfish person, that just makes me human. There are several areas of my life where I have to stop and do this for. I am basically unlearning all those false things I believed about myself by reminding myself of the truth and the positive aspects of myself. This works for me because I am generally very hard on myself and view the things I do in a negative light but, I also work very hard to help others and to reflect on my actions and change them when I realize that I might be hurting someone else or making things hard on them. This response has gone on for a long time and may not seem that relevant since I seem to mostly be talking about myself and my experiences but, I swear I do have a point for saying all this and I believe that it relates to your post.
The reason that I talked about this and responded to your post is because I have been feeling worn out lately too. Thoughts are coming in a fog and sometimes are hard to put together. I feel stressed and anxious most of the time with no real idea of the source. I feel constantly tired and I feel like all the things I used to do before I don’t have the ability to do anymore. I used to be more organized and able to accomplish everyday tasks like shopping for groceries and not be exhausted by even the thought of doing it. I think that the reason for the change is simply burnout. I realize that now. Now that I recognize what it is I feel that I can do something about it. Namely, embracing my diagnosis of ADHD and also giving myself time to rest and recharge. I still have things that I need to accomplish in my life but I am giving myself permission to take those things slowly. I am giving myself permission to be lazy. My strategy is to give myself tons of time to rest and have down time while also doing things I need to do. For example, most people might recommend a study schedule of 30mins with a 15min break in between. For me I’ve taken that and applied it to my chores and other things I find unpleasant but I give myself way more time to rest and use the shorter time to do chores. For example, yesterday I wanted to badly get my room clean but the mess was overwhelming me. I didn’t want to sit on the couch all day and just binge watch my favorite shows because that would make me feel lazy and even more overwhelmed and depressed. So instead, I gave myself permission to be ‘lazy’ as long as I did something productive as well. The show I was watching comes in 45min episodes so I made a deal with myself. I would do something productive for about 15mins or so (just spit balling it really, working until my mind wanted to wander and then seeing if I could push myself just a few minutes more to complete a task) and then I could watch an episode uninterrupted. Then, rather than playing the next episode immediately, I made myself do another 15mins of organizing knowing that I would rather do that and feel better of myself than get the instant satisfaction of watching another episode. The feeling of being productive was a major boost to my positive feelings. I actually got a lot accomplished and felt really happy with my progress but, I also got lots of time in to rest. This also comes along with me having to let go and re-frame some of my thinking often. I sometimes have to take a breath and let go of my perfectionist tendencies. Remind myself that I am not perfect and that I don’t need to be. Basically telling myself that making small steps today and doing things as I can do is better than waiting till I can do everything at once and perfectly tomorrow. Reminding myself that I will take small progress today over the lie that I will get everything done perfectly tomorrow. I still have much more work to do but I made way more progress than I thought I would and I feel much better mentally and emotionally. I have less of a feeling of burden on myself. Part of this comes from simply knowing that I have ADHD and so these things don’t come naturally to me which is why they are hard instead of me feeling that I am simply “lazy, dirty and unmotivated”. It leads back to me understanding how to talk to myself and reminding myself of what the actual truth is. It takes away a lot of the emotional burden which holds me back a lot personally.
Now, this really relates back to what you posted about because I think you are suffering from a form of burnout as well. Yours may be worse than mine since it probably went on longer. I have things that I want to do creatively or otherwise but no longer have the mental energy to push myself to do them. What I am trying to say after this long post is that it seems to me that you have burnout and probably are really hard on yourself, like many people with ADHD, when you feel like you are being lazy and unproductive. I think that some of my insights might be helpful in helping you to accept the relaxation and to rest enough to eventually build back up to your interests and doing things you enjoy. The first step I think is realizing that you are burned out (or whatever conclusion you may come to). Then giving yourself permission to rest in whatever form you want to or think you can enjoy. That’s where my experience with self-care and positive self-talk can help. Part of what is making your relaxation un-enjoyable is feeling that you are lazy and possibly your have internalized other negative thoughts like I have. Try to listen when you thing those thoughts, hear what you are saying to yourself and refute it with the truth. If you feel lazy remind yourself that you have worked really hard your whole life and you’ve pushed yourself to do what everyone else is doing which requires way more mental, emotional and physical effort on your part. That’s why you feel tired and there isn’t anything wrong with that. You’ve worked hard and it’s ok to rest. In fact, I’d say that the rest is well earned. You deserve to take some time to rest because you’ve worked hard. Think about if it was a friend saying that they were lazy to you. If they did all the things you did, would you believe they are lazy? Probably not, you’d probably say that they deserved the rest and the same is true to you. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to help you like my friend was able to help me. So, ask those close to you how they see you, you’re not being egotistical to ask for the truth.
It’s ok to be kind to yourself and to make time for yourself. It’s very human and normal. Even those who don’t have ADHD struggle with this. If your brain won’t let you rest find something, anything, no matter how small that makes you feel happy. It can be something as simple as watching a favorite show on that comfy couch, coloring in a coloring book, reading a book you’re interested in or walking around the block. The key here is to not force yourself to do anything. If you aren’t done reading that book and you’re bored, move onto the next one and forgive yourself for not being perfect, for not being able to make yourself do something or concentrate long enough. At least this helps me. I hate feeling that I’m forcing myself to do something which is partially why I hate routines. By giving myself permission to not finish something, to change my mind or do something else I am relieving that feeling of pressure and responsibility to follow through. It allows me to enjoy what I am doing an recharge in a way that doesn’t trigger my perfectionism. That way my resting and relaxation actually feels that way instead of feeling that I am doing it to avoid working or doing important things. That’s why it’s also important for me to slip those moments of productivity between long stretches of resting. I feel like I am getting things done but I also feel like I am getting a lot of resting done too. I can come back to the work recharged because I have allowed my mind to switch to something else for a bit and since it’s enjoyable I get recharged slowly. I plan to keep doing this for as long as it takes making sure to take my time and be thorough so that I give myself enough time to properly recharge. I think that this will eventually lead me to having energy and enthusiasm for the things I enjoy again.
The point is not to avoid things but to embrace them and yourself for what they are. We are imperfect and that is ok, we are human and mistakes are expected and natural. In fact, we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. I also think that what one commenter pointed out was pretty useful. As ADHDers we are often tired from trying to fit into a world that isn’t set up to be advantageous for us, in fact it’s set up in a way that makes things harder for us so some fatigue is expected. I hope that this comment can help you and that I haven’t rambled too much or given advice and information that is unnecessary or unwanted.
I believe that people with ADHD brains are very resilient, more resilient that people who don’t have this type of brain. In time I believe that you can find a solution that works for you (whether or not my advice works for you) and will help you to deal with the situation you’re in. As the other commenters pointed out, the best thing to do is to give yourself some slack and realize that it’s ok to not be 100% ok all the time. It’s ok to feel tired and lack enthusiasm. Sometimes that happens in life but you can bounce back and find a life that works for you. I know that ADHD minds are always moving and thinking so you’ll probably be back on your feet before long, just remember that you need to give yourself rest regularly if you want to be the best you can be for yourself.
I also recommend things like mindfulness meditation and positive cognitive behavioral therapy. These are useful tools that can help you to relax and think more positively about yourself. They do take some time and effort but once you’ve rested enough and given yourself permission to fail and be lazy they will become a lot easier.
Registered just to say thanks for this, i get increasingly the feeling this is a big issue for many of us and one that probably doesn’t have any easy answers. But definitely agree with what you said that we all tend to be very resilient and build all sorts of coping tools in the long run.
Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful reply. Much of what you mentioned I had already figured out for myself, but it took me over 50 years to do it — I’m glad you have managed to do it in your thirties. (I especially loved your description of how you sort of trick yourself into getting things done — 15 minutes between tv episodes. That is SO the kind of thing I do!) As I said in another reply, I’m not unhappy. I have a level of activity that works for me — enough that I don’t get bored, and not so much that I feel overwhelmed. The only negative aspect is one you, and most other commenters (is that a word?), touched on… comparing myself to others makes me feel inadequate. So stopping that comparing is what I’m working on, and I’m gradually winning the battle. Yay!
Hi Anita. I am trying to reply to your « I am so weary » blog. I am 70and was diagnosed officially a few months ago. I always thought that I had ADHD, but it was never picked up before, even by my seemingly competent psychotherapist I saw for a number of years. My biggest complaint over the years has been my lack of energy. I never saw this as part of my ADD issues. Now it makes sense to me. I do not have depression, but that same psychotherapist diagnosed me as having GAD, anxiety disorder. Now I am wondering if the anxiety actually is a side-effect I’d ADD. As well, I have be3n on Concerta for 2 months, and, sadly, even at the highest dose, is not helping me focus on these organizational tasks I have been hoping to be able to tackle….
Your blog sounded 99% like me – I am your ADHD twin. Starting dance lessons, tap lessons, are lessons, language classes. I have so many interests, but have been unable to follow through on them. I do focus pretty well when I am in the kitchen cooking, except if my guests come into the room when I am trying to prepare food, or set a table, empty a dishwasher, etc. I have to ask them to wait in the other room, or I never get things done. Also, I often make a huge mess in the kitchen wh3n I cook!! I would love to have a private chat with you. Facebook Messenger? Thanks.
Hope this reply is getting to DeeCook. Yes, you do sound like my ADHD twin! Including the part about cooking. I’d be happy to have a private chat, but am not sure how — Facebook Messenger could work, but how do we find each other?
Hey Anita. I’m surprised and delighted that you responded and related to my comment. I relate to your experience and how it seems like everything is bad when you talk about your struggles but in real life it’s more touch and go but generally happy. We ADHDer’s are a resilient lot. It has been so helpful to me to read posts from other people who are struggling with the same issues I’m struggling with. It reminds me that I’m not a failure and not alone. I wish you the best and hope you find the balance you are looking for. It’s not easy to not compare yourself to others but at least those of us here understand you and we are rooting for you to find the peace you seek. 🙂
I’ve given a lot of thought to this very topic, because feeling weary is such a familiar state. I think that the key is to recognize that the knowledge that you have ADHD (and any other related issues) explains the weariness: we have been trained since childhood to function in a world whose systems are not set up for our way of operating. The thing to do, and I’m not saying its easy or even completely possible, is to admit to yourself that that “paradigm” for operating no longer serves you, and to replace it with one custom-engineered by you, for you. Every time you tweak your routines to work better, you are already doing just that. We need to give ourselves credit for having to mastermind our navigation such that we insert the structure that helps us, the exercise, the time management, the prompts, etc.. The bottom line is that we have to actively pursue this, or we will remain weary. I suspect that being stuck in weary is tantamount to clinical depression. Regardless, it’s all part of the same package in being human; we are what we are, now let’s try to enjoy life on our own terms!
Wow! Very powerful and just what I needed at this time in my life…
Cannot tell you enough how good it is to feel understood, but not excused from life!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Thank you all for your kind words, concern, and encouragement. I’m afraid this blog must have come across as more negative than I intended — although it’s true I have given up on several activities, I’m actually happy as a clam just taking it easy. Having all this time to myself feels like a reward after years of overwork, and it’s fabulous to be in a position to be able to decide just what I want — and don’t want — to do. I am exactly as busy as I want to be.
The one fly in the ointment (which I think you all touched upon) is the inability to stop comparing my productivity to others’, and feeling inadequate as a result. This isn’t a constant, though, and I’m getting better and better at putting a stop to those negative thoughts when they arise. As far as I know, none of my friends judge me for being less busy than they are… so why should I?
And it really helps to know/find out that we are not alone with our quirks and struggles — ADDitude, and people like you, have made my world a better place.
What a great article. As a woman in her 60s, I don’t see much about dealing with ADHD as an older person. I think, at least in my case, a lot of my problem is comparing myself to others. it’s not just neurotypicals, it’s anyone who seems to be managing life better than me!
I was in my Facebook ADHD group, and a young man who is a professional artist started talking about lack of focus. And my thing was about art, and ALL the supplies I buy, and ALL the projects I have going that are incomplete. The fact is, there’s no pressure for me to complete any of them because it’s not something for anyone but me.
I don’t think I’ve had a job outside of my home for at least 5-8 years. I went from working full time in various office jobs, to part time, to gradually nothing. My husband was definitely the one who pushed me, and I have to say I’m grateful. But, I do remember that once the joy of not having to be somewhere every day wore off, and I realized I wasn’t going to do any better at keeping up the house, it was not as big a thrill as I’d imagined.
But over time, I adjusted. Now my biggest problem is finding enough time to do all the things I enjoy. Maybe you just need to allow yourself to “drift” for awhile. Art took off for me when I found a woman nearby who gave me private lessons. Then I stopped for awhile and worked on my own. Then I went back and joined a group she was teaching. It was only once a week, but I looked forward to it, and it was stimulating being around other people who had a similar interest.
We have such high expectations of ourselves, but changes are difficult, even when they’re good ones.
I do so feel what you feel, you are NOT alone! I tried sooo hard to be like other people, and after my son was born at 43, I failed miserably.
After struggling for 8 years after his bitrh, I lost my relationship and my job of both more than 20 years at about the same time. It is been 6 months and I finally feel joy again in things I l( used to) ike, without the constant need to be useful. I have a little money, and due to co-parenting I suddenly have time to myself, which I now use to visit musea, find out about my family history and other useless but so much fun stuff. And I don’t really care what others think, this is what I need right now.
I see that you mention a lot of activities that you think you should do, or that other people enjoy, but you need to find things to do that you enjoy, and for now you have to let go of the need to do something useful. Just find something to do that you really enjoy! You should not have to make an effort to have fun, and the result is not important. Important is to find your joy in life (again).
I also cut out all labels in all clothes, even in underwear, or especially in underwear 😂.
And I take small 1 or 2 day trips, all by myself, and I love it. It was scary at first, but now it feels so liberating. In my part of the world, (Europe) it is quite easy and fairly cheap to do. I don’t know where I go from here, but I can tell you, these trips will remain a part of my life from now on, they make me happy. So please, take it very easy, take your time, and most importantly, find out what makes you happy, and keep that in your life!
Replying below as “Rositacon”. Wish I could find a way to change my username.
Hello Rositacon, when you go to your account – profile – edit profile, you can add a nickname, which can be changed all the time, and you can then choose to display the nickname instead of your username. Your nickname will be visible, and not your username.
Thanks! I think (hope) I’ve got it figured.
Oddly enough, the tired you’re describing and the life you aspire to live are identifying strongly with me. Except that I’m trying to do the opposite. I’ve been trying to take care of my mental health in not forcing myself so much that I get anxious, tired, or sad. But I had to stop doing that, because I was about to flunk out of college.
I’ve believed that striving for excellence and fighting to meet the demands of life will be a more fulfilling way to live. But you say that, having lived that way for decades, it leads to deep-down tiredness. It sounds like depression. Please get it checked out if you can — it’s not normal to be so very, very tired that even taking it easy on yourself and downsizing your entire existence would not make it better. I’m glad that you’re working on un-learning the moral aspect of work — that you have to be productive to “earn” your right to live or be happy with yourself. I’m working on that one. I’m also holding out hope that I can be strong and keep up with life while also keeping up with life’s demands. 🙂
ADHD is an actual medical problem and us a chemical imbalance in the brain, hence the tiredness. The dopamine levels etc. Medication will help the levels to balance out but do not change habits. But we are determined and tough by definition!! We are still going – we are survivors! Its very draining when you have to put in double the effort to simply get through every day. Make sure you eat very healthy foods and supplement with a high quality multivitamin. But the best thing is be nice to your hardworking self and love yourself for how you were made. Fighting guilt and emotions is draining – so LIVE LIGHT, LAUGH LONG, LOVE ALL!
Replying below as “Rositacon”. Wish I could find a way to change my username.