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Chronic Inertia

Chronic Inertia2012-12-04T18:36:33+00:00
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  • #91213

    Post count: 363

    I’ve completed dozens – hundreds – maybe thousands of planning lists. I have outlines. I have calendars. I have goals. I know what I want, at least in theory.

    My problem is: I can’t seem to do ANYTHING.

    A reasonable person would think: if I’m not doing anything, maybe it’s because I don’t really want to.

    But this is not a state of reason.

    Maybe I get going for a week or even two – then I become overloaded and the whole thing fizzles to nothing, and I’m back to staring at the wall thinking that my life is completely pointless, that aside from being a physical presence in the world for my children, I have no reason to exist, and am bored out of my mind, marking time, taking up space.

    This is not depression. In fact, the less compelled I feel to make my life Meaningful, the better I seem to feel. Internal pressure, or that sense of urgency, that I better hurry up and figure it out – never leads to a good place. So I’m trying to let it go. If I’m staring at the wall this month, then that’s what this month is about. I’m trying to let it be OK, since I can’t seem to do much to change it.

    It’s hard to imagine what would be fun, if fun is an alternative to productivity or accomplishment.

    I should have been a cat. Then I could do what I do now without feeling inadequate – eat, sleep, nap, tear at the curtains, nap some more, be affectionate, jump into the air for no apparent reason, and curl up next to the heater.

    Even the things I have accomplished, I barely remember doing – so, for all I know, I have done as much as “normal” people and just don’t realize it….? Maybe? But probably not. I think most people have done more by the time they’re 25 than I’ve done in my entire life.

    There is no reason to expect that my patterns are going to change, or that there is anything I can do to change them, as this seems to be a condition I can’t fight in any direct way.

    Do others have this experience?

    Any thoughts on this issue….?


    Post count: 445


    Sdwa, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. We’re simply unavailable for action. So it doesn’t matter how many lists we make. It doesn’t matter where we put our lists. I wouldn’t say “ADHD coping strategies” are a complete waste of time, but in my experience… pretty much. Besides, many ADDers couldn’t stick to a strategy even if they DID work. If it were possible to deal with AD(H)D with a daily plan, it wouldn’t be a big deal. All those people who say it’s just a different personality type would be right. But it’s not and, IMHO, the coping-strategy proponents don’t grasp the true nature and gravity of the disorder.

    As far as I can tell, there are three things that really help:

    1) Medications

    2) A personal assistant who will help you organize your life and do the things you can’t.

    3) Somebody standing over your shoulder every day, all day long, telling you what you need to do or stop doing—in effect, a substitute will.


    Post count: 363


    Thanks for saying that, actually. It helps.

    I don’t think the “coping strategies” are a waste of time – the information is good to have, even if I can’t use it. I’ve learned a lot – and it all sounds great on paper.

    ; )

    I’m thinking maybe I will stop spending my time making lists and plans – not that my time is so valuable, given what I’m able to do with it, but unless I want to go into business designing planners for people who could actually use them, why not save a few trees?

    My “hyperactivity” is mental. Thoughts running through my mind like a constant stream of noisy chatter – most of it meaningless.

    Medication sort of helps. In fact, I am out of mine, because I forgot to call in the prescription.

    If I could afford a personal assistant, I probably wouldn’t need one – ?

    I do wish I had someone standing by my side all day every day telling me what to do. As pathetic as that sounds. The problem of course being that anyone who would be willing to do that would be a person with serious issues. (Perhaps offering some insight as to why people with ADHD tend to attract weird people and frequently end up in unhealthy relationships?)

    And yet, the best teacher I ever had would tell me, “Read this chapter, then tell me what you learned.” And I would read it and report back, and he would either say, “Good,” or “You got this part right, but go back and read it again and answer the following questions.” That cycle would continue until I had learned all of the material. What made it work well was:

    A) a weekly check-in

    B) attentive feedback

    C) my desire to learn coupled with

    D) the awareness that if I didn’t do the assignments, he would certainly stop working with me.

    I wanted to do it, no matter what it took. I knew I had to show up, so I did. But if I hadn’t really wanted it, it wouldn’t have happened. And if that teacher hadn’t been equally passionate about the subject matter, he wouldn’t have been invested in my learning process.

    So that was a rare situation.

    Coaching is expensive, but even a coach won’t do those things, because you’re the client – you’re paying them, they don’t want to alienate you.

    I’ve tried to create some external structures for myself by putting pictures and signs on the walls and big visual reminders, like color-coded boxes and files. Although I can summon enormous energy to construct these things, once they’re in place, they fade into the background like so much wall paper.

    Maybe the clue here is that I could tell other people what to do and how to organize their stuff. Maybe that would be a good job for me.

    Thanks for responding because I am feeling pretty demoralized at the moment. The problem is not depression itself, but a state of being that becomes depressing as a by-product of being so incredibly freaking stupid.

    You know what I mean, yeah?


    Post count: 146


    So glad you wrote about this because I hit those states often. I’m the ADHD type. So I too have that mental hyperactivity going on all the time. I even dream so actively that I can wake up in the morning and feel mentally like I have already done an entire day and then some.

    When you mentioned about not having accomplished much in you life my bet is that there is more than you think. I do the same thing to myself. Well so and so or those other people have done all of whatever my mind comes up with. But unless someone points it out to me or I list it or visually see what I have done I’m clueless most of the time.

    I caught onto this with my therapist and other people who would remark about how I could do all that I do. Or they wished they had my energy. To be honest I thought that was anyone but me. I view myself always trying to get going or stay focused along with that underlying urgency. If not in that state of mind then sleeping way too long or just sitting on my butt and watching TV. With the medication there is much less of that. But most days I have that feeling of really, is this all I’ve got so far?

    With the planning and list making etc. I found I had to change my thinking about it. If I tried to do everything I will overwhelm myself and I found that I’m often unrealistic about what I think I can get done in a day. If I put how much time each task should take then most often I put about a weeks worth of stuff to do in one day. Then I think I’ve done nothing. Even If I cross several things off.

    I do keep project lists of things to do on my computer. But when I started this time I left off the time frame when I think I should have it done by etc. Mostly because at random times of day I would remember something. Like I wanted to touch up the house trim or organize the office. So I did lists of each category I wanted to do just to keep track of it so I wouldn’t forget about it.

    Such as House projects, Yard projects, office/work, Fun stuff. what ever came up. Then on days I do have focus I refer to it and see if there’s one that gets my attention and aim to do as much as I can if I can’t complete it. Then I put an in progress. Or check off if I can.

    I also use a white board so I can visually see it. I’m a very visual thinker. Then I kinda put it out of my mind and usually within a few days I find myself working on something and after the fact realize that it was on my list. I had to get the list out of my head to talk away that urgency feeling. It gets me nowhere. I got into the experience of the feeling of doing the task and of crossing it off. If I didn’t feel it then I don’t think I could recognize I did the task. Well not think. I know it doesn’t connect. I also design jewelry and people comment on how much I have made or say wow you’ve been busy. My response is usually I have? I don’t connect to the feeling of having done it or my mind has moved on. Even on a long intensive task. I have moved on to the next thing.

    I also realize that while I too would love a coach just sometimes sitting here and writing about what ever is going or or my procrastination motivates me to do something. It’s like I have to let the forum know that something was working and there is hope! I don’t know. Just my thoughts on this subject.

    Which reminds me now that I have stuff on my job and work lists to do. I work from home the second half of my day on freelance stuff.

    One last thing, I really like what your teacher did with you. Sometimes that’s all we need to just someone to give a nudge in the directions we need to go. To promt the brain into action. Not a shove or judgement. But a nudge. And then check in with us to see what we learned or did. This site does that for me in a way.


    Post count: 363


    Thanks for the feedback.

    As I think about it, I have done a number of things, but in a haphazard and scattered way that’s resulted in not making any real money and not having any concrete achievements on paper.

    My latest list trick is to just make a sloppy hand-written note in loose categories: to do laundry, wash the dishes, practice the ukelele, work on my novel, work on my mural, work on other painting, do something for Kid #1, do something for Kid #2, do some of the reading I want to do, run errands, pay bills, take out the recycling, take out the garbage. In one day I did 7 things on the list, but none of them were the big or important things. And then I became annoyed. The important things loom large and are intimidating, which is why I’m not doing them.

    But I hear what you are saying about never getting that sense of accomplishment – there’s no reward for doing anything. Or not much of one. I also make lists to just get the random flying stuff out of my mind.

    Lately I’ve become addicted to video games and noticed that it’s because there is always, always a pay-off: making it to the next level. In the real world, there is no next level – or if there is, it is too far above and beyond anything I have any hope of reaching. I only started doing this because my kids play video games, and it looked fun. And it is, aside from being an enormous waste of time. What makes it a draw? It makes my brain feel like I’m doing something, and elevates my mood. Nothing in my actual waking life feels that way. So, I can see how they become very seductive.

    Seems like video games could be constructed to serve an actual purpose. Others have had this thought as well – as in the case of a group of science people who needed help folding proteins, so they created a game to get people to do that for them, because machines can’t think the same way that people do. (I think their website is called http://www.foldit.com or http://www.foldit.org).

    Coaches and/or therapists are not necessarily that great because they are content to take your money for as long as you can pay them whether or not they are actually being helpful. I don’t always know what is helping and what isn’t, or how I could tell, at least not until after making a significant investment of time, money, and trust. So far, understanding more about ADHD in general terms helps because at least I sort of know what I’m dealing with and what to expect.

    My dreams at night are so vivid it’s like traveling to another universe.

    What I also liked about that teacher was that he waited until I understood all of the information before going on. There was no external schedule, no need to rush to get to the end of the quarter or semester, ready or not. I knew that I was going to have to absorb everything we were working on before he would consider moving on to the next thing. It worked incredibly well. Sadly quite rare – even for school children – more or less unheard of in adult education.


    allan wallace
    Post count: 478

    Cripes, SDWA reading your opening post made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Me to a ‘T’ :( It’s just so overwhelming and demoralising, but what else can we do other than each day wake up and say ‘I’ll start this or that tomorrow’? We have no option but to just hope that by some miracle we’ll get the impetus to get started, and then the resolve to maintain that momentum. Very daunting. I’m hoping that by implementing a healthy diet and by doing regular exercise that I can at the very least drag myself out of the rut before it becomes an abyss…I feel terrible that there are so many people that perish in third world countries before they see their first day out. One of them could have made far better use of my life. It’s kind of like having a ticket to a theme-park and just sitting in the carpark looking in, whilst others turn up and don’t get in due to not having a ticket…


    Post count: 161

    Sometimes if I get really stuck with a To Do list, I’ll say that I’ll reward myself (either with CHOCOLATE! or something else) after I complete 5 of them. Carrot in front of the donkey, I suppose. ;)


    Post count: 363


    Love the analogy of sitting in the parking lot at a theme park. It’s perfect.

    Today is a little better, because: 1) I realized that one of my hang-ups with the story I’m writing is that I need information I don’t know where to find, and 2) This is weird, but I have body lotion that I haven’t used since the last time I felt energized, and this morning I used it and the smell reminded me of that feeling. 3) Just talking about it and knowing that other people can relate is in some way a relief.


    Yup. I have been trying to do the same thing with a list – but I had set my goal to getting 10 things checked off, and could really only do 7 in one day. So 5 sounds like a good number.

    Sometimes I feel like a trained seal. No fish, no tricks.


    Post count: 14413

    SDWA – All resonates with me. Even being hear, simply feels like another Distraction mechanism, reflex etc. I wish you well. Back to the list.


    Post count: 929

    That’s Great!!!

     should have been a cat. Then I could do what I do now without feeling inadequate – eat, sleep, nap, tear at the curtains, nap some more, be affectionate, jump into the air for no apparent reason, and curl up next to the heater.

    Totally priceless. I’ll BBL to read more. Looks like a great thread. Hopefully I’ll slow down to about 35 or 40 thousand miles per hour later on today. hope so.


    Post count: 929

    Still hoping so, really really hoping so…..




    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    You wouldn’t want to be a cat during the visit to the vet to remove a couple of “very personal items”…

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