One of our biggest challenges that we face is the feeling of being overwhelmed. This is different than the normal person who has a ton of tasks on his or her plate, and feels stressed and overburdened. For an ADD or ADHD individual, relatively simple tasks like assembling a toy, doing a homework assignment, or having many tasks to accomplish in a day or week can simply flood the inattentive brain.
Waking up to a day full of tasks and challenges can put inattentive or high ADD/ADHD people affected by the disorder into a tailspin of depression and anxiety- the cousins of ADD/ADHD that you really have to experience to understand. Physicians without the disorder can talk about it, can know about it, but cannot REALLY know it unless they themselves are afflicted with the disorder. (Read about Dr. Baker, the creator of AddieUP here and his previous struggle with focus and attention.)
Why We Feel Overwhelmed
A day like this typically begins this way. After a tough night of fitful sleep, the person awakes to a "climbing Mt. Everest" feeling. There are feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and depression. There are so many clear visions of past failures and lack of self esteem that we feel inadequate, our past failures give us a feeling that we simply can't overcome, can't achieve- that can't overcome our deficiencies. It really weighs heavy on the heart, mind, and soul.
We bear down and say, "come on, you can do it", and then something hits us, a past due bill, paperwork we must complete for work, a deadline of some sort, and we feel like failures. We get depressed. Our emotions spiral downward. We are in the state of mind that can only be clinically labeled as depression or anxiety. For many of us, it is a daily or near daily ritual. A deadline starts firing our ADD/ADHD brain, and we start the cycle of getting emotional and rattled.
Objectively, our performance goes downhill fast, we fly off the handle, we talk fast and confuse co-workers, our tempers flare and we get in an argument with a loved one. We shell out blame, we reign an ADD/ADHD terror on people who have to deal with us, and by their reactions, we sense our own shortcomings and afflictions. We cannot cope, and we remain depressed. With all these triggers hitting our brain, we become exhausted by the cycle.
The phone rings, and in our depressed and overwhelmed state, we are short, abrupt with the caller. We feel guilty afterwards, of course. We know we just sounded like a non-caring jerk to someone who has just reached out to us. People slide away from us as a result of this behavior.
We barely have enough energy, or with our heightened anxiety our adrenaline is flowing so much in our bodies that we try, unsuccessfully, to sleep or wind down. Some of us turn to crutches, like alcohol or prescription anti-anxiety medications like valium or xanex, or even illegal and risky street drugs. We engage in reckless behavior. Our need for escape is so great that we do things that we know, deep down, we should not do. We disappoint our friends, family, co-workers and loved ones as a result of this behavior. How do we feel after such an episode? Terribly guilty, because we are very sensitive and emotional. We know we have done wrong, and it further erodes our precarious self-esteem. It is hard to find anyone who understands what we go through. Often, our frustration is unleashed in our work or home environment. This is adult ADD/ADHD, and only those who truly have it can understand it.
Solutions? Here are 10 ideas you can do to break this state of mind that is so common to all of us affected with attention deficit disorder:
1. Get engaged in conversation with a child, if you don't have kids, use your natural ADD/ADHD playfulness to lighten your heavy spirit.
2. Get outdoors. When we are outdoors, everything seems better, but winter and rain can make this idea a bad one.
3. Exercise The LAST thing many of us want to do is exercise. Will it help when your really keyed up? Maybe and maybe not. Simply getting outside on a nice day can help lift our spirits.
4. Give Yes, give our attention to someone who is worse off then us. Quit the pity party by engaging with someone else. Conversation, and also helping those less fortunate, can help.
5. Give your loved ones affection, whether it is your spouse, significant other, or pet. This can also get us back on track.
6. Read a good book with positive implications or watch a uplifting program or movie. The LAST thing we need when we are in this state is a sad, demoralizing or depressing news program or movie. Pick you programming wisely.
7. Meditate. Somehow we need to unwind, and meditation, if we are able to, can really be a blessing. Dancing to our favorite music with our headphones is also a good exercise that is easy to do and will help.
8. Eat healthy Often we punish ourselves by eating poorly. Simply pick up a piece of fruit, like an apple or banana. Doing the right thing makes us feel better.
9. Force yourself to be productive, channel the negative into a positive and get some tasks done, instead of escaping.
10. Walk with your loved one or friend, or call them. Reach out. Blog, write. Email, do something that let's your mind unwind.