ADHD Paralysis

ADHD Paralysis describes the inability to action a task until you have created enough stress.

Text says “Sitting on the couch, thinking about all the things I could be doing, while being physically and mentally unable to get up and get started on them. Then I beat myself up and call myself ‘lazy’ “.

Let us deconstruct the bits of this.

The graphic has the statement colour coded, where the text in black indicates Dopamine related brain activity and the text in yellow indicates Norepinephrine related brain activity.

We know that ADHD is primarily a struggle to either make or retain enough of the neurotransmitter Dopamine in the parts of the brain that we group together into the system called the Executive Function and often has a co-related difficulty with making and retaining enough Norepinephrine (sometimes too much rather than not enough).

When Dopamine is low, it is hard to clearly think, plan, retain temporary information and prioritise. When we find ourselves listing tasks, but not able to pick one, or plan how to do the task, this is indicative of low Dopamine. The disconnect between wanting to do things and being able to do them is also indicative of low Dopamine, although to be fair, this can also be low Norepinephrine.

If you are low on Norepinephrine, it can be hard to assess situations well, which leads to mood problems, often anxiety and anger. In this case, the guilt feeling is where we feel like we should be doing the list of tasks is a tool our brain is use to try to create a feeling of stress, to prompt our brain to make more Norepinephrine or if stressed enough, substitute Epinephrine – our crisis management Neurotransmitter. Guilt isn’t working, so the brain escalates the stress by beating itself up and using the stigma “lazy” rather than “blocked”, as if not doing the task is a choice.

As an analogy, I may have a well serviced car in the driveway, but if it has no fuel/charge, it can’t get to the store. Technically the car isn’t faulty, it certainly has the ability to get to the store and back, but it lacks the fuel. If I add some fuel/charge, then it can go. The dark method of filling the tank in your brain is the negative self talk to create enough stress so that the missing neurotransmitter is released. It isn’t that my car doesn’t want to go to the store, it literally can’t until it has something in the tank.

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