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  #1  
Old 08-17-15, 05:43 PM
TelepathBoy TelepathBoy is offline
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Paralysis and despair busting actions

I get caught in these horrible paralysis loops of avoidance, procrastination, and indecision. The more I procrastinate, the more the unfinished tasks and to-do items increase. They pile up in the corner. I don't even know what they are. I just know there's a giant amorphous blob of "tasks" over there looking at me. Even when I am able to sit still for a moment and define them I am completely unable to prioritize them and I have no idea how long each one will take. I worry that the one I choose will be both low priority and time-consuming, and meanwhile, some urgent issue that I failed to attend to will blindside me. Will my power be shut off again because I forgot to pay the bill by the deadline because I was busy cleaning my car? Will I miss a business opportunity because I failed to reply to a potential client because I decided to spend some time organizing my finances so I don't rack up hundreds of dollars of "overdraft fees" and NSF penalties simply because I failed to move money I actually had to pay for these things around between accounts? So I don't do any of them. And they keep piling up.

It all becomes a tangled mess that I don't even know how to begin to unravel. And despair and depression set in along with the feeling of having no control over myself or my life. Which, of course, makes me even less likely to activate. It's easy to wallow in the muck of victim-hood and self-pity. Depression is comforting because it's easy and familiar. And I don't have to do anything. I can just "be depressed".

I've been here before. I know there's a way out. I know the solution is always incredibly simple in retrospect. But I can't see it from where I am now. I know it involves action. I know it involves simply grabbing the bull by the horns and getting started. And once I break through the horrid barrier, I wonder what took me so long and why I couldn't see the solution.

But what is it? I can't find it right now. Although the action is different in content and purpose each time, there must be some kind of common denominator to these barrier busters. And assuming that there is a common denominator, it follows that there must be a go-to action that we can use each time to reliably break through this indecision paralysis

Do you have a go-to action? What is it? Or, if you don't have one, please share any and all thoughts you have surrounding this issue. Can you relate?

Maybe me posting this is a step in the right direction.
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Old 08-17-15, 06:23 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Go do something right now. Doesn't matter what, just do one thing.

When all else fails, external motivation is the only thing that works for me. I call my sister, my mom, or a friend to either push me to do the thing or pair up with me and do the same thing at the same time with me. I've tried online prompts (which is why I wrote my 1st sentence). Hopefully that's enough for you. If not, maybe try some other external motivation.
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Old 08-17-15, 06:34 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

lots to say, but I'll keep is as brief as I can.

and this is me talking, what I've done so, maybe some works and some doesn't, take what you will.

with ADHD, I think, we tend to be really good with the hard stuff (if your like me atleast) but the smaller stuff is just like, crap. the smaller stuff IS the hard stuff.

one way to get organized with this is to make a... I forget the exact name of it, but it's like an importance list. it's a XY graph, and relate everything to importance to left and not importance to the right, then up and down sort of reach into the thoughthole and pull out emotional importance. thats a good idea to get started looking at the problem in a quantitative way that doesn't make you feel like an ***.

it's ok, NT's do this too. a good thing to do though is to do this at the start of the day and then THROW OUT THE LIST and do it again tommorow. for me, seeing what I haven't done just brings on anxiety. cause you know what needs to be done in your head to some extent I imagine, this is just a good habit to get in to start prioritizing.

the next is, I think, to start chipping away at the addictive distractions. when I finally started to stop drinking completely the way I did it was Identifying the behavior (the emotional part helped get down to the cracks).

behavior is funny, because when you start seeing what it is we really can control you start kicking yourself.

whenever I would go to work I would come back with a drink at sometime during the week (I work in the other town). I never really developed the behavior for getting a drink at home, just the other town (behavior one, first real clue). whenever I would pass the gas station I went to regularly I would get that jumble mess in your head and you JUST WANT OUT so you get the drink (behavior 2, driving past the gas station). then I would pull out the money and buy the drink (behavior 3, money).

the first doesn't really count, but it shows that I am in emotional control of alcohol at this point. the other two are behaviors that I have control over way before I even start thinking about it. turns out, if I drive another way home I don't get a craving, none. it also turns out that if I don't bring money or a Card, I don't get a craving. when I leave my house I can easily choose to not bring money, I can even do it knowing what I'm doing.

porn? no problem, don't go to the place that sells lube with a lot of money if you are buying food. feel good about it, etc. (I say no problem, but I don't know how much emotional regularity you have towards those things)

that makes tomorrow feel better (anxiety drives anxiety) and you feel better about what you did imprinting that memory to your head. instead of drinking, you can get a bit of paper work done and then feel good about it. it's important to always put positive influence on the things we do do, that makes it easier to do it again tomorrow.

also don't remind yourself of the problem during the day. this is what replacement is all about. when you remind yourself it's like you are doing it. mindfulness meditation is good for this because you can start to silence those thoughts the second they creep up. emotional control, anxiety management etc... also goes a long long way in this (for me it was vital, but that would be another 10 paragraphs)

I think another is to know about wiplash. I have to do things I do slowly at first (meaning, at the begging of the process) and then slowly gain steam over time (days/weeks). If I do something to much, then wiplash happens and I'm sunk for a few days regarding that activity. it's like building a brain muscle. this is why I think the importance graph is good, because then you can limit the tasks to just a few at a time until you get the ball rolling.
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  #4  
Old 08-18-15, 04:35 AM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

I am a believer that if the pain gets great enough, change will happen. I learn through pain mostly. It was how I stopped drinking and got treated for bipolar and adhd. The negative consequences forced me to change. I have something I should have taken care of months ago and the more pressing it becomes, the more I was to avoid it. I need to address it because its about to get painful.
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Old 08-24-15, 06:39 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Wow, that description is exactly me too. It is so hard to break out of... I looked back and figured I spend roughly a month each quarter in deadlock. Some days I wonder why I even bother coming into work--I'm not going to do anything or anything productive.
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Old 08-25-15, 12:37 AM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I feel like I'm out of it now, but that was a very rough patch.

I was talking with my ADHD therapist about it. She told me that what I was describing sounded more like PTSD hyper-vigilance than ADHD. Of course there are elements of ADHD in there, but the fear that I feel - as though something or someone is waiting to smash my life up if I make one wrong move - that's more like PTSD.

I don't like all these labels because I feel they can become self-fulfilling diagnoses, and as such, I'm not going to label myself with "PTSD". But, she's now the 5th psych expert to suggest I suffer from the symptoms. I have to concede the possibility. I did have a terribly abusive childhood, and, I think it's possible I've come to view life in general as an abusive parent who is waiting nearby to hit me or berate me over one wrong move.

It's very possible this is a kind of hypervigilance response to extreme childhood trauma mixed in with ADHD. It makes sense.

Thoughts? Curious to hear ideas and experiences.
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Old 08-25-15, 12:51 AM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Sometimes I do this internally:

aeon#1: “I don’t want to wash the dishes.”
aeon#2: (jokingly) “OK, I acknowledge the fact you do not want to do the dishes. That having been acknowledged, go and do the dishes.”

or...

aeon#1: “I don’t feel like doing the dishes.”
aeon#2: (jokingly) “Nobody asked how you felt, now go do the dishes.”

or...

aeon#1: “I don’t want to do the dishes.”
aeon#2: (jokingly) “Your wants, while valid, are irrelevant to the situation, now go and wash the dishes, which are in need of washing. Needs before wants, chap.”


Sometimes, being playful pokey with myself, while actually acknowledging my feelings, wants, and desires (or lack thereof) can get me going, in part because it makes me laugh at myself and breaks the amotivational logjam.

---

Another thing I have done recently is printed and pinned up a little banner above my front door (and given the small size of my apartment, it is almost always visible).

It says: “What have you done today in service of your short-term and long-term goals? Remember, taking action toward those goals is a form of self-respect.”

Cheesy, perhaps, but I am well past the point of worrying about such things. Whatever works, I say.

And in case I forget my goals, those are printed and attached to the door itself. I reread them every time I wake and contemplate them for 10 minutes. I do the same 30 minutes before bed.


cheers,
Ian
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Old 08-25-15, 09:11 AM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

I have a few things that have been helpful, mostly based on the fact that it's easier for me to keep going on a task than to start one:

OHIO (Only Handle It Once): The principle is, when you check the mail, you chuck the junk mail before even entering the house, you set up the bills to be paid (I do online banking for everything), you mark the bill as paid and you file it (or trash it if filing is overwhelming) That way you don't add to the to-do pile. THEN you kiss the spouse, suck up to the pet, eat, etc. ;-)

Don't decide to tackle the whole job, just a tiny part of it. I'll tell myself to enter three receipts in our accounting software, rather than look at the pile and get intimidated. The trick is that once I enter three, it's easy to keep going, and I rarely JUST enter three receipts. If I went into the task saying "I'm going to enter 20/50 receipts today" (they've really piled up) then I'm going to get intimidated and avoid it.

You mentioned prioritizing, and being unable to decide if the bill payment or the fire in the kitchen is higher on the list is part of the symptom salad of ADHD. It's something I still struggle with, and it's why I can't see wood on my desk for all the paper, but the one thing I have learned to do is take anything that has a set deadline (bill, follow-up with a client, meetings) and I put them in a calendar with an obnoxious in-your-face reminder.

I also try and establish a daily routine. Given the types of issues you've described, it might be worth scheduling 15-20min for "housekeeping" at the beginning and the end of each day (before you look at your e-mail). This time would be spent reviewing your notes from the day, sifting through your calendar, and plugging in the non-optional items. Then you can plug in the "not urgent but important" stuff where it will fit.

Learn to say no! We ADDults tend to be people pleasers, and we also have a poor sense of how much time we'll be able to find for tasks. Be wary of things you volunteer for. If someone asks if you can take something on, try to hedge so you can look at your calendar, review your commitments, and see if you can manage it. A lot of the time, when my schedule is overflowing, it's because of things not in my job description that I've said yes to because I WANT to do the task, without really thinking about if it's realistic for me to find the time to DO the task.

Look at the tasks you do in a day, and decide if it's IMPORTANT. If it's not, consider getting rid of it. We tend to fill our day with things that sound meaningful and helpful, but end up being more time consuming than useful.

Acknowledge and celebrate the things you DID get done today, and try to let go of the things you didn't. With most jobs today, they could have five people in the job and there would still be items that didn't get done. If we don't acknowledge our successes, how are we supposed to feel anything but a failure?

Hope these tips are helpful!
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Old 01-11-16, 01:02 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Telepathboy....

It's been a while since this thread was active... just wondering how you're getting along. This is a tough one that I've made little progress with over the last year or so....

Thanks..

-m
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Old 01-11-16, 01:51 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Quote:
Originally Posted by TelepathBoy View Post
I get caught in these horrible paralysis loops of avoidance, procrastination, and indecision. The more I procrastinate, the more the unfinished tasks and to-do items increase. They pile up in the corner. I don't even know what they are. I just know there's a giant amorphous blob of "tasks" over there looking at me. Even when I am able to sit still for a moment and define them I am completely unable to prioritize them and I have no idea how long each one will take. I worry that the one I choose will be both low priority and time-consuming, and meanwhile, some urgent issue that I failed to attend to will blindside me. Will my power be shut off again because I forgot to pay the bill by the deadline because I was busy cleaning my car? Will I miss a business opportunity because I failed to reply to a potential client because I decided to spend some time organizing my finances so I don't rack up hundreds of dollars of "overdraft fees" and NSF penalties simply because I failed to move money I actually had to pay for these things around between accounts? So I don't do any of them. And they keep piling up.

It all becomes a tangled mess that I don't even know how to begin to unravel. And despair and depression set in along with the feeling of having no control over myself or my life. Which, of course, makes me even less likely to activate. It's easy to wallow in the muck of victim-hood and self-pity. Depression is comforting because it's easy and familiar. And I don't have to do anything. I can just "be depressed".

I've been here before. I know there's a way out. I know the solution is always incredibly simple in retrospect. But I can't see it from where I am now. I know it involves action. I know it involves simply grabbing the bull by the horns and getting started. And once I break through the horrid barrier, I wonder what took me so long and why I couldn't see the solution.

But what is it? I can't find it right now. Although the action is different in content and purpose each time, there must be some kind of common denominator to these barrier busters. And assuming that there is a common denominator, it follows that there must be a go-to action that we can use each time to reliably break through this indecision paralysis

Do you have a go-to action? What is it? Or, if you don't have one, please share any and all thoughts you have surrounding this issue. Can you relate?

Maybe me posting this is a step in the right direction.
I have nothing to add or contribute, but I wanna give you a medal for the way you analyzed and articulated this.

I relate to this and I couldn't have said it better.

My only way out of this is when everything finally falls apart altogether, when I get broke, and I'm about to fail again at college and lose my job, people get really frustrated with me, When there's no more functioning aspect in my life to keep me distracted from everything else.

When the frustration, pressure and anxiety are at their peak, that's when I start to pull my **** together and try to tackle things one by one or all at once. Then the cycle keeps on repeating like a perfect sine wave of chaos.

Did you find your go-to?
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Old 01-11-16, 03:15 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

I start to clean my room. And if that seems too much, I set a five minute timer on my phone and I work to clean and straighten until the timer goes off. Then I'll usually start the timer again and clean some more ...

For some reason, straightening my room gets me out of a helpless rut. It's very practical, grounded. I can see the results over time ... and it takes a little time to get involved, but after one or two five-minute sessions, I start to feel good about my work.

Are you being treated for depression? What you're describing sounds like the way I feel when I'm depressed?

I agree with Sarah that good can come from pain ... I used to experience emptiness a lot because I was spending so much of my energy putting up an image around people and not standing up for myself ... and trying to fit in. Those habits exhausted and depleted me .. and I would regularly reach points where I felt very empty ....

Good luck.

Tone
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Old 01-11-16, 07:23 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

If you are not naturally all that active, getting some exercise (any kind, whatever you want) can really help with this.
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Old 01-12-16, 10:50 AM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

I was talking with my ADHD therapist about it. She told me that what I was describing sounded more like PTSD hyper-vigilance than ADHD. Of course there are elements of ADHD in there, but the fear that I feel - as though something or someone is waiting to smash my life up if I make one wrong move - that's more like PTSD.

I don't like all these labels because I feel they can become self-fulfilling diagnoses, and as such, I'm not going to label myself with "PTSD". But, she's now the 5th psych expert to suggest I suffer from the symptoms. I have to concede the possibility. I did have a terribly abusive childhood, and, I think it's possible I've come to view life in general as an abusive parent who is waiting nearby to hit me or berate me over one wrong move.

I got nothing to contribute but I feel this. What can you label it for. Recognise it and deal with it when it comes.
Must say interesting idea though , maybe that's why it comes back and puts us in a state so we deal with those feelings. Just saying.
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Old 01-12-16, 11:32 AM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

Something about PTSD....It is one of the most disabling things I have ever dealt with. I can say with surety that not dealing with it means no improvement in most areas of your life. Whether it was physical, emotional, sexual abuse...living in an environment that was inconsistent, chaotic and unpredictable heightened my overall sense of flight or fight. I have found that with the adhd, my "flight" response translates more to into an ignore the obvious/distract myself from priorities type of response. Physically I am not taking flight but mentally Im gone.
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Old 01-12-16, 12:04 PM
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Re: Paralysis and despair busting actions

I will simplify my rock and a hard place theory when it comes to self motivation.

The rock - I have in my head what needs to be done. It creates anxiety and stress because it is overwhelming and I do whatever I can to avoid it.

Hard place - The anxiety and stress are still in my head because I know I didn't get the things done that I should have. So now I still have the stress and the list in my head is building up which makes it even more stressful.

Answer - Just start. I don't care if you do 3 to 5 minutes worth but just start, and here's why.

We make these tasks and lists worse in our head than they really are. Even if the task really does suck, we make it suck 10 times more. If you just start, you show your brain that it really isn't as bad as you made it seem and you begin to feel the stress diminish because you are starting to complete task.

Remember that positive feeling because it will be your motivation to start or finish the next task. As crazy simple as this sounds it works!

This is only my opinion living with AD(H)D, depression and anxiety for 46 years. I know that if I avoid the list, the stress and anxiety builds, if I force myself to at least just start a task, I get motivated and before I know it I have completed a task or two or three or yes even sometimes 4. Then the feeling of success fills my head and I relish in it and remember for future motivation!

"The voices in my head may not be real...but sometimes they have really good ideas!"
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