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Depression and ADHD

ADD, Depression, and lack of motivation...

Hello. I’m new here and I’m posting this partly to get feedback but also as a way to not feel so isolated. I’m a middle aged woman with ADD, diagnosed 22 years ago but never really got the proper type of help (was under the delusion I could somehow “cure” myself, as were the professionals I turned to for help). I also have anxiety and non verbal learning disabilities not diagnosed until adulthood.
Anyway, struggling on this Sunday afternoon. I know time to oneself with ample opportunity to “get things done” is a luxury that many people don’t have. But as I sit here, alone in the house as my husband is at work, I am completely frozen. There are things to do, small, doable things I can start with, like throwing a load of laundry in or doing a few dishes…but I am completely frozen. Need to make a ten minute drive later to help out my elderly parents. When I am not at work I am usually helping them - they have a lot of health challenges. But when it comes to living my own life, even the simplest things for myself that would give me a sense of peace and satisfaction once they are done - like having clean clothes - are so hard to do. My brain has a hard time registering that I matter. Does anyone else struggle with this? I can do things for others, but not for myself. When it comes to myself, I am a complete zombie whiling away the hours - and getting more anxious about it by the second…


I want to respond because I feel your pain and I can relate to it. I get frozen when there’s free time and so many choices of what I could do with it…but I know that, whatever I do, there will be so many other things left undone. It’s hard to accept the amount of time that is available and not wish for more.

I wonder if you’re struggling with being so busy with work, then spending most of your free time helping your parents—and when you have time for yourself, there’s still more work on the plate (like laundry). When do you get to just enjoy life and do something that’s fun? So you can’t get started on the laundry because you really want to give yourself a break. But you won’t allow yourself to do that, so you get frozen. Your subconscious gets what it wants—you get a break from all the work—but it’s not very satisfying because you’re fighting with yourself the whole time. This is all a guess, based on what I go through with myself. It’s a real anxiety-producing way to live.

Maybe, if you could figure out something you would actually enjoy doing, you could give yourself permission to do it during part of your “free” time. I meditate, take walks, read, work on creative projects and enjoy my pets when I need a break from accomplishing things. My suggestion is to think about giving yourself a break for a certain amount of time, with the idea that you will be much more productive with the rest of your time if you aren’t so conflicted and hard on yourself.

Posted by pnwsuzie on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:05pm

My therapist is trying to get me to learn what he calls nonjudgmental observing. Just notice what you’re doing without beating yourself up for it. For example, I stay up too late playing on my phone then can’t get up on time for work. He said to try and observe when I’m doing it without kicking myself for it. Then when you notice something, you make a conscious decision to continue it or do something else (in my case shut off the phone and go to sleep). If you don’t blame yourself for it, you can be more relaxed and peaceful about doing the right thing. It’s not easy to do (the not blaming yourself part) but when I’m able to do it, it really does help.

Posted by Jeri-Texas on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:43pm

Thank you so much for the replies. Just posting helped a little but then coming back to see these replies is a breath of fresh air, a break in the isolation I am so familiar with feeling.
Not to mention these are very helpful suggestions. Thank you, pnwsuzie and Jeri-Texas.

Posted by ojos oscuros on Aug 11, 2014 at 3:26am

The accountability you feel to others provides motivation. What looks like a lack of motivation is often seen with ADHD:

Setting up a very structured routine can help ( Saturday is laundry; Sunday you clean the kitchen, Monday you vacuum floors, Tuesday you pay bills…. You can set it up in a way that makes the most sense for you and your work/home schedule. By making a very structured routine, you eliminate the need to make a decision and motivate yourself to take action. Tell yourself, “On THIS day, I do THIS.”

Good luck!

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 11, 2014 at 3:20pm

I just read the articles Penny referenced and they are really helpful! Have a look and take notes wink.

Posted by pnwsuzie on Aug 11, 2014 at 6:27pm

I know that I long struggled (and still do, from time to time) with the concept that it is okay to take some time and do things for myself.  I think those of us with ADHD, especially those who went for a long time without being diagnosed or without proper treatment, have a hard time giving ourselves a break, and understanding that we have to take care of ourselves as well as others.  When we were constantly criticized for not doing things correctly, or for not doing enough, or for falling short of the mark, even when we were trying our hardest, we internalize that shame and start to believe that our value lies in our ability to “get things done” and constantly be achieving things.  Unfortunately, learning to relax and take times for ourselves, without guilt, is a skill we have to learn, just like so many other things.  I I like the concept of non-judgmental observing…I think it is a very valuable activity.

Additionally, if you have someone you can turn to who can help you with ideas, don’t be afraid to reach out to them.  I am lucky that my parents and a few of my friends have always been there if I have needed help figuring out how to get started on something.  Years ago, for example, my mom would come over and essentially teach me how to clean, because I would start and become overwhelmed by the big picture and not be able to understand how to break things down, or how to start on just one thing.

If the option is available to you, I definitely recommend finding a therapist that you work well with.  My therapist has done a great deal to help me learn to battle my shame and guilt, and to help organize priorities.

There are also some great books that can be helpful, including “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD” by Russell Barkley, “Journeys through ADDulthood” by Sari Solden (I found this one especially helpful for some of those feelings of guilt and shame), and “Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Program” by Steven Safren et al.

Posted by bburgastros82 on Aug 12, 2014 at 4:54pm

I am just joining these groups this is my first post. But bburgastros82 really hit home for me. I was never diagnosed figured it out on my own late in life (over 40, now I’m over 55) and have been trying to do it alone since, but the guilt, shame, anxiety and depression are all now to much.
I have long moments (hours-days) of ‘frozen’ as you call it. Because I am in a very ADHD non-compatible environment (so I have learned) as I am self-employed, no family, children or even close neighbors. For 30 years I just worked 24-7 to keep ahead of the shadows that haunted me when I stopped and let them catch up.  At 55 I am too physically and mentally tired to out run them. And I am forever feeling over whelmed.
I agree that just getting up and doing a small task sometimes helps break the feeling, and I am learning that in a day or 2 it will usually pass and I will be back to my usual over-achiever self. But I must figure out how to control the feeling that I am ‘not worthy’ of a vacation, or a minutes rest, that reading a book in the middle of the day is lazy and I should always be doing something.
I agree Penny’s ideas are good and usually help me, but I find I start to hyperfocus on making the lists and deciding when and how to do everything and then it all still takes 10x longer than it should. And I find a new way to be frustrated.
No real point to this post… just saying your not alone.

Posted by wana be me on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:17pm

You are not alone, nor “crazy” as I have felt at times.  I can relate to a lot of what you and the others have said.  I am 48, diagnosed with adhd at 45.  And a general anxiety disorder. Been dealing with major depression lately as I am now separated after 23 years of marriage.  Oh, well.  I have a new therapist to work with my upcoming challenges, and a pretty decent psychiatrist.  He takes the time to listen and ask questions when he sees me struggle. 

Hang in there, and get more support around you.  Its okay to be paralyzed at times…just be aware, and take one thing at a time.  There will always be laundry.  So don’t feel guilty. 

Also check out flylady - she has some great advice for 15 minutes at a time.

Posted by amusicmom on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:14am

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