Stuck on a hamster wheel?: Why do I... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Stuck on a hamster wheel?


Why do I constantly feel like I am trying so hard and putting forth all my effort, only to find out each time that I am merely spinning my wheels again, and never actually making noticeable progress on anything?

Sometimes I literally feel like a hamster going around and around on a wheel all day. The faster I run, the more I just keep spinning. No wonder I’m always so tired!

I can even be so determined too, that THIS time is gonna be different, and I really AM gonna make progress today.

Then just like clockwork, as soon as I start feeling like I’ve accomplished something, I stop, look up, and realize that sure enough, once again, another day is gone and apparently I’m the only one who DIDN’T know, that I’ve just been spinning the whole time. Again. 😔

No wonder I have such a hard time motivating myself every day. It’s completely and utterly exhausting! And the worst part is, there never seems to be a pay off. No progress made. No reward for sustained effort.

Staring down again at the same exact to do list, still not completed, and absolutely nothing to show for my determination besides more wasted time. 😏

Well, that and of course, and the inevitable frustration and shame, that I constantly feel for not being able to do what everyone else seems to do just naturally, and with little to no effort at all.

Can anyone else relate? 🤷‍♀️

And how have you managed to step off the hamster wheel? 🐹

31 Replies

Hey Blue

I get you totally.

My life has been climbing up that very large mountain.

Some times I 3/4 the way up and then slide down to start all over again.

Yup I’ve reached the have some person do something and bang straight at the bottom again

So first of stop being so hard on your will only destroy your own inner self belief system yer.

Second,don’t compare what you’ve done next to the next person,your asking to get a downer.

Third do what you have to do in three days but it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish and take the other two days as rest.then leave the weekend to laze around listen to music watch a boxet.

Christ I was diagnosed ten yrs ago at the age of 40.

It’s taken me 8 yrs to learn not to procrastinate.

What you also need to do is give your self some well being time.wrather it be meditation music going for a drive.

I do a lot of making things with wood and also carbon fibre I’ve kept my self busy I’ve not had one problem with Covid and totally abided by the rules.

It may not feel like it but that hamster wheel is different each day.

Sit down visualise a running machine,atleast your going some where.

Find some podcasts on well-being there are loads of good ones

Have fun

Hope that helped a little


Thank you fidgity! 💙

I feel you on this one. I've been feeling very overwhelmed and agitated because my to-do list only seems to get longer and never shorter. When I cross one thing off my list, three more take its place! It's tough because I also have an anxiety disorder so I've basically had to teach myself to become un-addicted to fear (yes, you can actually become addicted to fear after a lifetime of trauma) and learn to have more faith - in myself and in life in general. Some days are still really dark for me, but I'm having a lot more days that are good and bright. I find the more I read and learn about myself and my disorders, not to mention my past, the more positivity I find. What has been tremendous for me as well has been keeping up a gratitude practice. There's a lot of ways to do this, I'd suggest googling or looking on Pinterest for fun ideas, but what matters is that you find what works for you and just keep using it day after day after day. My moods used to be absolutely black, and I started that practice over 6 months ago, and now I am much happier - just from noticing all the ways that I feel blessed and happy to be alive. Even if it's small things. Do the work, trust the process. Before you know it, the practice will become automatic. When I started, I was super negative about it and didn't see a point in counting my blessings. Now it's effortless and I am in a much better state of mind more often. Start small, and incorporate small changes one at a time. Once you get the gratitude practice down pat, then you can move on to something else. You will start to notice a difference. Just give it time and be patient with yourself.

Thanks Greenkitty!

I have been trying to journal every day and I almost always do, but I haven’t specifically focused on gratitude yet. I am looking forward to trying that now. I’ll keep ya posted on progress. Thanks for taking time to make a suggestion! I really appreciate it! Hugs 💙

Yes, do let me know how it affects you!

Yes gratitude is great!

I recently graduated from university and I know exactly how you feel. The fact that I'm supposed to be looking for a job and may run into some money problems soon puts some extra pressure on me and can make me feel especially bad (not to make it sound like I'm comparing situations. All of the things you're feeling are totally valid).

I can't give much advice (I'm trying to get off my own hamster wheel so to speak) but one thing I've realized is that I can't make the changes I want alone. I've never really been good at personal productivity and don't know how to get good at it, so I'm going to find someone who is. Whether that ends up being a therapist or a coach remains to be seen.

Also, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I would recommend to stay determined. Things will get better, and even now they're not quite as bad as they seem. We tend to think very frequently and very quickly, so our mind can go to wild places pretty suddenly, especially when emotion is a factor. However, keep in mind that these feeling aren't necessarily true. It's easy to sound like the smartest guy in the room when there's only one person in the room.

Thank you WonderMusic!

I do have a slight tendency to exaggerate my issues quite often, although I rarely notice it until someone points it out to me, and then I try to tell myself not to automatically make mountains out of molehills!

Thanks so much for the friendly reminder! Hugs 💙

I used to have a dream in which I was a soldier. I was buried up to my waist in the ground and all I could do was flail my arms and torso back and forth. I was diagnosed at 50, almost ten years ago; before that point, I was consumed by shame and anxiety. Sometimes it's easy to climb out of the hole and sometimes the ground is cement hard. I just do the best I can each day, there is no day that isn't an ADD day. Right?

So true DesertAl!

Thanks for helping me realize that I’m not the only one who feels completely exhausted sometimes just from trying, yet failing, to make progress.

It really can be so frustrating at times, but you are so right, it’s important that I don’t forget that some days will be better than others and that’s ok.

I just need to keep trying, and do the best I can each day, and try to cut myself some slack already!

(I’m a Virgo so this is often very difficult for me to do.)

Thank you for a helpful reminder!

Hugs 💙

Thank you for post! I was diagnosed late, put on meds- life was basically AWESOME for the first time ever at 47. Then peri menopause started, I guess - but meds stopped working .. I began function less effectively so I grabbed my then boyfriend now husband and we moved to LAfor “ his “ career while I felt like the NY life style was throwing off my game. But no -?it was my Petri dish if neurobiology. The meds stoped working and now Im your neighbor in the hamster wheel to your left- I’m the one who looks like a rotisserie chicken hamster spinning on the floor because I can seem to even pull myself up to the wheel. 🥱I know- sorta pathetic reply, but I just got here and yours is first post I read- I was so happy to see someone with my same feelings I just let my innards fly.

JenInk OMG, 🤣🤣🤣

thank you so much for this!

It made me laugh and I really needed that today! (Honestly, you have now idea how much!)

Please don’t ever apologize for describing your true feelings! That’s why we are here to identify with one another and your honest words were exactly what I needed today!

So thank you, thank you, thank you, my new hamster wheel neighbor! I’ve been looking around in hopes of finding you here! Don’t worry, I’ll help ya back up on your wheel in any way that I can. (At least now we both have someone to talk to while we are spinning on our hamster wheels!) That is, if we can keep you up on yours of course! 🤣 We might actually have to trade places every now and then though, because I quite often just want to get down off of mine for a much needed break! 😊

So nice to meet you hamster friend! Thank you for making my day!

No really. I’m 100% serious. Thank you!

Fuzzy Hamster Hugs And Whisker Kisses 🤣


I can totally relate!!

Yes indeed I can relate! In fact, you described me to T. I've been on that hamster wheel far to long, and you're right, it is exhausting. I've tried everything to get some momentum and move forward in life, but constant lack of accomplishment has all but destroyed my confidence. I wish I had pointers to give, but I'm in the same predicament as you.


Hello Chillyla!

You’re are right, unfortunately we haven’t quite found an effective solution yet, BUT maybe we can all at least support each other through these hard times, and share any tips or secrets we discover along the way (as well as any funny hamster fails of course lol), until we do find an effective solution we can pass along.

If nothing else, hopefully we can all take slight comfort in the fact that we aren’t the only one who feels this way every day. Because quite often (for me anyhow), it just feels like I really am the only one who has to deal with this day in and day out, even though I know I am not, but sometimes it still feels that way.

Once I start having those feelings, it’s like a snowball effect, and it can go downhill very quickly if I allow it to. That’s when I start thinking things like, it’s so unfair that I alone have to carry this heavy burden, while everyone else just goes about as normal, crossing off to-do’s like it’s nobody’s business! (meanwhile I’m still staring at step one.)

Of course, just knowing I’m not alone doesn’t actually help me cross to-do’s off my list per say, but it does remind me that there is a logical explanation as to why I feel this way: it’s my ADHD, and remembering that gives me the incentive to keep learning everything I can about it, in hopes of one day finding a solution.

It also helps remind me that I’m not actually lazy, crazy, stupid, or worthless, (even though I do cycle through these feelings about myself almost daily.)

It also helps me open my eyes and realize that once again, even though it often seems like every other person in the world has their crap together, clearly it can’t be true, because just look how many fellow hamsters I have beside me who’ve got my back!

I’m so thankful for all my hamster friends! (And for my non-hamster friends as well!) I might act a little scatter-brained sometimes, or get my whiskers in a bunch, but I’ve still got your back and I’m grateful that y’all have mine!


Hello fellow hamsters. Is there room for my wheel?

Absolutely acrononymous!

Glad to have you! We need all the help we can get! 💙

Blueorganic1021: I am right there with your. You and I sure have a kinship! I feel like I'm in Hamsterville here. I should start a group; call it the Hamster Rescue with daily challenges, (easy, doable ones.) The members could check in with their successes, and of course when we're unable to attain our daily goal we'd be encouraged to look forward to our next chance. This group is great, but there is so much going on. It sure would be nice to have "round table" type conversations.


Cuteascanbe in reply to Chillyla


Chillya that sounds lovely! I need all the help I can get. Lately I can’t even get myself together to leave the house. It’s not depression. It’s getting distracted by everything.

The vyvanse isn’t working for me. It makes me irritable and uncaring about most of the things I should do in a day. I decided this morning that I’m weaning myself off. I also found a new psychiatrist this morning but my first appt isn’t for a few weeks.

I'm on vyvanse too, and although it seemed to be working at first, now it's as if I'm not taking anything. I'm going to talk to my doctor about stopping it and increasing one of my other meds. I'm praying you have a peaceful and happy Christmas and New Years while waiting to see your new specialist.

Yes completely! I feel like I'm constantly spinning and getting nowhere. I can only step off briefly when I meditate.

Musicever in reply to Luna_Child

Me too and that's good to have peace of mind!

Luna_Child in reply to Musicever

Yes exactly 😊

Musicever in reply to Luna_Child


I remember to reward myself for even the smallest gains. I do understand what you mean though.

That's the fun part 😊👍


Well first of all, you need to limit the worry time to a full 15 mins. Using a timer. The most easiest part to do also that I have found helpful is having a “I don’t give a shit” moment after work or a project that is causing some anxiety. Setting boundaries for yourself. “Thought stop”. Over thinking and regret will drive you crazy. What is causing stuck in hamster wheel? I’m curious I have the same feeling at times. I want to see if we share and fix the problem

blueorganic1021 in reply to Hidden


Well, to be honest, I’m not really 100% sure, but I assume that it may have something to do with my, at least so far, ineffectively treated ADHD.

I might be completely wrong about that too, although I’ve yet to find anything else to blame it on, so I’ve pretty much just been going with that lol.

As far as the worrying goes, I have no idea what it’s like NOT to worry, because I am by nature, someone who literally worries about every. little. possible. thing. (and then some lol), all day long, every single day, 24/7. Honestly. No joke. I wish I was kidding.

Like sometimes, I will catch myself worrying about what to worry about, no seriously, or maybe about how much time I actually spend worrying (and what other things I should or could be doing instead), and even quite often about hypothetical things that haven’t yet, and may likely never, actually happen at all! Just mere possibilities at best, yet I find myself unable to stop the constant rumination process. Which no doubt, is yet another reason I feel so exhausted all the time!

I do have GAD, and MDD, on top of the ADHD, so I have just always been this way, basically for as long as I can remember.

Any alternative thoughts, theories, or suggestions? I’d love to hear them.

And also, thank you for your response.


Hi again. Ruminating was one of my most debilitating issues. I finally (and somewhat gradually learned to halt depressing thoughts or at least blur them long enough to get my mind on something else. It's was a fairly simple process, but not easily explained on a forum. More like a one to one conversation or small group because it's not an exact science. I still have depression and still worry, but I don't tend to spiral down into despair over any one thing. At least not the way I used to. Using the timer in the way acrononymous mentions below might possibly work in a similar way.

acrononymous in reply to Hidden

Timers are my best friend! I use a timer for everything! including distractions to runaway thought.

Blue, have you researched ways to help combat all that worry? Has your therapist suggested anything? I know that when my therapist suggests a strategy to deal with one of my symptoms, my initial reaction is to say "that won't work for me." but as I've tried baby steps over a longer stretch of time, quite a bit is actually helping me.

We are all created differently and it can be difficult to find something that works. I can tell you to not give up, to keep searching, but you're the one that has to do the work and it is much easier to make suggestions than it is to put them into practice. I have a thousand ideas. And very very few that I've actually acted on. But I'm working on that :-)

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