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A Reframe of my most disruptive ADHD symptom

March 28, 2024

Meet my nemesis

ADHD comes with a symphony of disruptive symptoms; my personal most persistent and debilitating symptom comes in the form of the very simple and convincing thought: “I don’t want to.”

It doesn’t matter if I’m committing to baking brownies, meeting a friend, that long-awaited hair appointment, the work I really want to do – when the time comes, “I don’t want to.”

And it’s not that I believe it’s a requirement to want to do all the things to be done in our lives, but…every. single.time???? It’s a maddening game.

The tiny crack

Even armed with my ADHD diagnosis and tools, day after day I’d fear the arrival of and often fall victim to my secret truth, “I don’t want to.” I’ve spent years trying to find the tasks I’ll magically want to do, reframing my thoughts to trick myself into wanting to do something, anything! Moving ahead with sheer force and shame and deadlines.

Finding human design added huge relief and ease, as I learned I’m not built to go-go-go all day long and keep up with 80% of the world around me. But still, even as I weeded so much of my life away (relief!), I’d still wake up in the morning and face the things I’d chosen to keep with my pitiful tune of “I don’t want to.” Until one day when a tiny crack in the thought gave way to an empowering reframe.

Me and my ADHD

This whole time I was falling for the thought. I’d think “I don’t want to,” would feel the lack of excitement in my body (a.k.a. would feel dead inside), and would believe that I didn’t want to. Case closed. “Sorry brownies. Sorry friends. Sorry haircut and important work. I don’t want to, so I’m not” (and I hate it.)

The truth is slightly but crucially different: it’s not that “I don’t want to,” it’s “my adhd doesn’t want to.” And that’s not going to change any time soon! My ADHD is always going to try and pump the brakes, but I am not my ADHD and my ADHD is not me. The truth is: I actually do want to pack our house for our cross-country move, I do want to make progress on my goals, read more library books, learn how to use power tools, whatever! And at every turn I can expect my ADHD to serve up a silly little thought that says “I don’t want to,” and I’ve got the tools to suss out when I truly don’t want to, or if it’s just my silly lil adhd.

“I am not my ADHD and my ADHD is not me”

Creative + Ambitious

It’s subtle but it’s empowering. It’s not that I’m some dead-inside, lazy, bag of bones. I’m a creative and ambitious person with ADHD, and each year since my diagnosis I get to know it (and name it) a little better. This is a big one though. An epiphany. My biggest and most bewildering foe shrunken down to a false thought.

If you have ADHD or are simply a multi-passionate creative, you may feel relief and focus from my bullet journaling method, as demonstrated in this course.

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

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  1. Becca Cherry says:

    I’m 100% with you on this one Dylan. I have the same thought too. Although a book I’ve read recently, the perfectionist guide to losing control has expanded this even more for me. She talks about there being five different types of perfectionist. My particular flavour is the procrastinator perfectionist, which I think might apply to most women with ADHD. That little voice that says I don’t want to, is actually saying I’m scared too; I’m scared that this won’t turn out the way I want it to. I’m scared that I’m going to get stuck along the way and don’t want that feeling of unsureness I’m scared that I will feel confused and don’t like that

    In the book, she talks about how there’s a couple of ways to deal with this, one of the main ones being self compassion. And I totally get that, although trying to treat yourself with self compassion, when you have spent a lifetime of being pretty mean to yourself is a difficult habit to change! It’s a work in progress for sure.

    Sending you all the best of luck with your move. Becca XX

    • Dylan M says:

      Hi Becca, I read your comment earlier this morning and it’s really been sticking with me. I even journaled about it! I think I’ll check out that book, thanks so much for sharing about your experience with it, it sounds very familiar. <3

  2. Lisa says:

    You just explained one of my most annoying (to me) ADHD symptoms… wow, I can’t believe I’m not the only one after all who never “wants”to leave the house for any reason! Thank you for sharing this, it’s very helpful and encouraging.

  3. Susan says:

    This is fantastic! I too have found this to be an empowering revelation…..PLUS, I always, always find that ACTION is the remedy. (like for anything…literally) I always feel so much better if I take action, even if it seems like a ridiculously small action step…because 1 action steps inevitably leads to another and soon I have a bit of momentum going and the negative feelings have subsided or disappeared all together. Cheering on all forward motion and enlightenment!!

    • Dylan M says:

      Yesss! Those tiny, itty-bitty, little baby steps always get me back in the swing too. Even making my bed in the morning is one of those things. Before I do it it seems sort of arbitrary and unimportant, but if I do it I always feel a little more ready and excited for what’s next. Thanks Susan!

  4. Enlitenkoppte says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’m really stuck in this lately, a bit extra due to my job situation being essentially non existant and very unpredictable. I’m trying to make an overview of what habits and structure I would like in my life, but even that’s a struggle when the I don’t want to/am scared to butts in.