Decisions : Hi, so I’ve always... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Hi, so I’ve always struggled with making decisions. Even tiny little ones like if I want spaghetti for dinner or rice. Or if I wanna volunteer at a community center or a library. I’ve volunteered a lot but it’s made my schedule busier and I once had to make this decision. I want there to be a perfect decision and I feel bad when there isn’t. I want to feel fulfilled and I worry about how people will react and what they’ll say. I’ve realized that due to my learning difference and ADHD and due to my lack of social skills (I’m getting better, I’m learning) I’ve gotten used to being reprimanded a lot. Especially by other children, who were my peers. Elementary school and middle school was the worst, kids have me odd looks, they reprimanded me, sometimes they were irritated with me and very critical. I’m not sure I can call it bullying, but still. I have been afraid of being reprimanded for a long time and I still am. But making decisions is very hard for me. How do I get better at it? I was watching some of Sweet Home Alabama and Melanie has to choose between Andrew and Jake. Two different guys who would both be good for her. But she’s torn I think. I have never been in a romantic relationship but I know how it feels to be torn and confused at times. What do I do?

7 Replies

Hi Annegables124, I haven't got ADHD myself but I suspect my partner of 9 years does. He finds it very difficult to make decisions. I think ADHD sufferers always tend to overthink everything and try and guess what the outcome will be, which ties them into knots and they end up giving up. I think sometimes you just have to go for something...what's the worse thing that can happen 😃

Yes, overthinking is a big thing for me. 😢😂😄. ADHD is just..... a lot. I love my ADHD, but..... it’s a pain too.

Hi Annegables124 ,Here's something you may be able to relate to since you mentioned getting reprimanded a lot, and learning to be be afraid of it happening again. (I may have already shared this previously, so apologies for the repetition if I did.) According to an article in Clinical Psychiatry News, "In school alone, a child with ADHD could receive 20,000 corrective or negative comments by the time he or she is age 10." (source: ) The article then goes on to describe the effects of this constant correction and criticism:

"Children with low self-esteem suffer from the pain of being themselves. They learn to expect to fail rather than to succeed. They recoil from the idea of trying new things–even things they might be terrific at, like sports, or music, or dance–because they figure the odds of being naturally talented at something, or being able to patiently develop the skills to be a winner, are pretty low. When we look at statistics on how children with ADHD fare down the line, in terms of lower-than-average educational achievement, employment, and marriage stability, one wonders how much is the disorder itself holding people back, versus how the disorder made them feel about themselves and their capabilities from earliest childhood."

Have you tried therapy? Being able to accomplish things like doing well at work helped me feel better about myself for a time, but all it took was one bad boss to undermine it all. Reflecting back on it, I think it was trying to build myself up on an unstable foundation. I remember switching back into that mode of being always wrong by default, and having to convince myself (and others) otherwise. Therapy helped by carving some time out of my schedule where I could explore what having a neurodivergent brain actually meant to me, rather than allow what it means to be defined by others. I was constantly apologizing for losing my train of thought in the first few sessions before it really started to sink in that maybe I really had nothing to apologize for. Maybe I had allowed a lifetime of other people's uninformed criticisms to have undue power over how I think and feel about myself. Handing over this sort of power to ignorant and unqualified had made it really difficult to feel confident in any decision I had made, or wanted to make, because of that default assumption of being usually wrong. Therapy allowed me to explore a different pattern of thinking, where being neurodiverse meant having intrinsic value, and not being a "failed version of normal" (credit: Jessica McCabe). Therapy planted the seed of this way of thinking, and with proper care, I'd say it's now become a sapling; still far from a mighty oak tree, but growing! 🙂

Hope something I shared here resonates with you, and you'll start planting (or continue growing) your own seed. In time, I'm guessing decision-making will become easier for you as you level up your self esteem, acceptance, and confidence.

Wow!!! Yes I could relate to that statistic you sent. Thank you so much! I love Jessica McCabe’s Ted talk. I also love a Ted talk called “Not just living but THRIVING with ADHD.” (Angela Aguirre) thanks for your wonderful advice.

You're welcome Annegables124 , and thank you for the kind response! 🙂 That last year under my previous boss was such a stressful, miserable period in my life that once it mercifully came to an end and I finally got a nice, understanding boss (so far, anyway!), I still found myself longing to find some meaning/purpose in what I had experienced. And something that I've found personally meaningful is to finally share all that research and all those thoughts that I had stitched together during that stressful period with others who may benefit from them. It's gratifying to know I'm playing a tiny part in helping other ADHDers out there figure out what their options are for how they think about and how they treat their condition. 🙂

Thank you, this is great and relevant!

ADHDers often have difficulty with organization and prioritization, but definitely not with having enough options :). The best solution I've found: talk your thoughts out with a good listener. Second best: brain dump and then try to organize what's in front of you on paper, not what's swirling around in that vast, creative mind of yours.

In addition to the prioritization problem, you mention your fear of reprimands. This is often referred to as "Rejection Sensitivity", and is extremely common for ADHDers (more consistently than the standard inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity triumvirate). Your resilience to reprimands/rejection will only be won through significant therapy and skill building. That's some of the hardest work because it involves taking a really honest look at you self-image/identity and taking ownership of it. Whether you can access a therapist or not, you can start self-therapy (and any therapy is eventually self-therapy).

That Rejection Sensitivity is a real doozy though. Books like Driven To Distraction and Women with Attention Deficit Disorder are good starting places. Oh, and of course, taking care of your body with enough sleep, etc. makes everything a little easier.

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