the two voices in our ADHD heads

I find that there are always two voices in my head. Or maybe I should say there’s one voice that comes from two different places. There’s a voice that says I don’t want to do that thing. And then there’s a voice that says I can’t do that thing cuz I don’t have the attention right now. Learning to tell the difference is the key aspect of managing ADHD. I also think it’s a key aspect of managing anxiety.

the first voice it’s not a helpful voice. But it becomes our default because everything is a lot harder for us than a neurotypical person even though “easy stuff.” But as I always say, there is a word missing in English between want and able to. I do a lot of stuff everyday that I don’t want to do. But with a great medication regimen, a lot of self-care, and all the work I’ve done on myself over the years, I get everything that needs to get done done eventually.

but I do have moments, days, mornings, period when I just don’t have the attention to do the things that I don’t want to do and that’s very different. There’s a danger in listening to the first voice when we don’t want to do something but if we really tried we would be able to do it. We fall into a helplessness and lack of productivity that can really make things worse.

conversely, there is also a danger to not listening to your brain and body when you are in a place where you’re not able to do things because you don’t have the attention available. You could spend an hour staring at your computer or you could take a break and do something restorative so that at the end of that hour you’re a better version of yourself and more able to tackle what you need to get done.

and, of course, anxiety is a demotivator also. And it causes us to act in maladaptive ways. We may feel like we’re overwhelmed by how much we have to do. Which reinforces that I don’t want to do it voice. Because not only is it hard for an intention standpoint but it’s also hard from a managing your anxiety standpoint. So in order to be productive in those scenarios, you need to do something that you don’t want to do that also makes you anxious. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to be in the fetal position somewhere playing on your phone. But where will that get you?

as you know, I share plenty about myself personally. The reason this came up with me today is that I’ve had a reasonably trying week with issues with my kids. And I had an extremely busy day yesterday with four clients, two consultations, family therapy, and I squeezed in a 5-mile run. And that’s along with all the other things I do in the household like cook dinner.

so, today I’m kind of destroyed. I only have four clients but they’re all in a row and I’m anxious about that. And I also generated a lot of paperwork both personally and professionally that requires attention and executive function over the last 24 hours. And I feel a lot of urgency to get much of that done today. Especially since some of it carries deadlines. Right now I have a little less than an hour after I got a cancellation and I have to decide if I can. I know I don’t want to sit in my computer and do all of that stuff. But can i?

of course, one of the ways that I’m dealing with this is lying on the couch in my office dictating a blog entry. That is not the number one priority on my list. And, frankly, if I didn’t do an entry this week no small children would die. But it is something that’s reasonably important in the big picture to do regularly. So I’m kind of being productive even when the situation isn’t ideal. Remember, doing the most important thing in doing nothing is not a binary choice. I’m not knocking something off my list right now. That’s better than nothing. Then I think my brain is telling me that I do need to take a little break. So I’ll probably read for a little bit. Again, a restorative break. Not a unintentional or mindless break playing on my phone. And then I’ll try to get a few minutes of work done before my next client. Because this isn’t an All or nothing situation either. I don’t have the attentional resources right at this moment but if I relax for a few minutes maybe I will? Then again, maybe I’ll just read until my next client and get all the paperwork done this afternoon. Got to listen to the good voice.

Standard disclaimer: I promised myself when I started this blog that I would post regularly, hopefully weekly. In order to achieve this goal, I have to fight against my own perfectionists. That means I edit very little if at all. I’m focusing on content not on detail. So please forgive any mypellings grammatical / punctuation mishaps, and anything Strange like weird capitalizations due to my using voice recognition.