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What Happens When Hyperactivity Is Trapped Inside

“No one had told me that my ADHD accounted for my hypersensitivities, obsessions, lack of motivation, and sleeplessness. No one told me that visible hyperactivity only manifests in 25% of children and 5% of adults with the condition. I never yelled, rebelled or distracted others, but I internalized the whirring in my brain, kept it from interfering with others, and came dangerously close to hurting myself as a result.”

15 Comments: What Happens When Hyperactivity Is Trapped Inside

  1. This helped me greatly. Grew up extremely hyper, easily bored, straight As, chess team, late/skipping school all the time, late assignments, library fees etc etc. I’d be doing homework and book reports 5 minutes before turning them in. Sometimes I’d be so apathetic about stuff that I’d rack up detention or extra homework. I never wanted to bother anyone. Just wanted to do what I enjoy (generally tech/computers/math/thinking).

    As an adult, I finally realize that most of my life has been derailed. Whether socially/relationships, educationally or regarding career. I’ve learned to tiptoe through anything that looks complex, being careful to hold all of the important points on my radar so I don’t “space” something trivial or knock over a shop display. It’s like fear and cautiousness are built into my core now. I can look completely chilled out while my brain is busy trying to keep me out of trouble. Which makes me space other things, including names and faces. Spacing where I’m going. My “autopilot” usually leads me somewhere that I go a lot.

    And there’s a wall in front of me. Getting past it feels like I’m flying too close to the sun. Not getting past it results in depression and being paralyzed, unable to even attempt things. I can plan things, but execution is nearly impossible. Not for lack of ability or knowledge. I can know something will only take 5 minutes, but can’t for the life of me get started on it.

    Stuff gets overdue, then piles up. I get in trouble, and deal with it. Still, I’m skilled enough to keep my job. I’m making a third of what I should be though, and a fifth as much as I could while working for someone else.

    I’ve been trying to figure this out recently, to see if I can get back on track. Get over that “wall”. This article is much closer to my experience than most of what I’ve read about adult ADHD.

  2. Thank-you so much for describing this. I want just to flag up to anyone reading that for ppl in their 60s pretty much most of their life will have been spent in the incredibly painful stage. Also there is a world of difference in going through this struggle in circumstances where others, such as parents, can put a roof over your head and not.

  3. “a beautiful and unique but hilariously inefficient brain.”

    The best description of ADHD I’ve heard yet!!

  4. I’d never considered I might have ADD until today, and I’m impressed by how much I relate to this. I chewed pencils, my hair, my sleeves, became the world’s best retractile pen tinker…
    I finally got my narcolepsy diagnosed in my late 20s, and found a therapist who thoroughly explained my CPTSD symptoms. So I thought that was that. But my working memory has been getting ever worse for the last 2 years, and a comment about stims I read by chance recently got me wondering about my childhood hair chewing and pen disassembling, and my present playing with body hair.
    Well, the good news for me is that medical treatment for ADD and EDS is practically the same.

  5. this article resonates on so many levels. In hindsight. looking at my educational path and gifts and failures. Ive never been diagnosed, but at 56 I can plainly understand. Im only now experimenting with stimulant meds. I had no idea about the obsessions, but definitely the road of anxiety and deep depression. The most striking thing was your analogy of driving with no brakes or ability to turn. Ive had nightmares like this all my life. Never once connected the dots. it makes so much sense now. Thank you for sharing this piece. off to the gym and the medicine cabinet.

  6. I used to believe that ADHD was a diagnosis only given to kids who couldn’t sit still long enough to read; now I know that I have had ADHD my whole life. From a young age I’ve always had what people called an “overactive imagination” and I found that I could read for sometimes as long as 20 hours without needing to stop, I loved reading, the immersion of it was so complete for me and I used this as a coping mechanism to deal with the racing thoughts, because when I read anything, my thoughts could race in a direction. Eventually I no longer could use reading to cope with the invasion of negativity and anxiety which I felt on a daily basis. I felt so alone and for a long time I blamed reading for my lack of social skills and accepted that my lack of focus was a lack of will, and I believed that I could “fix” myself with more structure and looked for a community in the military—it didn’t go well. Now I’m more than a year out of the military and struggling in college and I have only within the last week discovered why I have never felt connected, accepted, normal, human. It has brought me so much relief to read an account to which I can relate so deeply.

  7. I didn’t realise the intermittent obsessions were ADHD. My CBT theorist told me I was OCD years ago but never put me through for an actual diagnosis and I just thought that must be it despite the lack of compulsions. My obsessions are all consuming and utterly terrifying but they come in waves every few years. Gonna look into ADHD and obsessions now, thank you!

  8. I am newly diagnosed ADHD and I must say… It is the first time in my whole life that I have seen my self so well reflected!! gosh! there are more like me in the world! 🙂
    thanks for existing!

  9. Really like the article but could someone please clarify…The writer says she ‘thought ADHD was a leaning disability, not a mental illness’ but I thought it was a neurodevelopmental disorder and not a mental illness (even if it can cause or coexist with mental heath conditions). In the DSMV it is in the neurodevelopmental category right next to Autism.

  10. Thank you for writing this. I related a lot even though there are a lot of things that are different in our circumstances there are also a lot of things that call out to me as being similar in my situation. I haven’t been officially diagnosed as I am low on money at the moment but I hope to eventually get diagnosed and though I am a little bit afraid to take medication for it, I hope that it helps when I do.

  11. This is one of the most relatable things I’ve read in a long time. Inattentive ADDer but with internally trapped hyperactivity is exactly how it feels. People describe me as cool, low key and a day dreamer. But, just as one example of how I feel this is true, just get me talking about something I’m interested in. Others can’t see how hard it is for me to wait my turn in a conversation because on medication I can slow down and I learned that interrupting was not something that would win me any awards or friends. I still do it by accident or if I forget to take my medication and then of course spend the next few days trying to remember, mortified, how many times I interrupted someone when I accidentally let my guard down. It drives my Dad crazy and I still feel such shame and embarrassment when at age 40 I am still being scolded and told to STOP Interrupting when I really am trying so hard but sometimes I forget to stop myself from doing what, well, comes so naturally. It gets worse if I am in an argument and am emotional.

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