Too Early for a Midlife Crisis? - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Too Early for a Midlife Crisis?

DW44 profile image

Anyone else a high achiever at school? I need your help...

I've been working now for just over a year and I feel like my whole world has been turned upside-down. In the education, you're valued according to your intelligence, and everything was structured which was great for my ADHD brain (and I got good grades so I enjoyed school and thrived).

Suddenly, life is not like this anymore. I no longer have clear, set-out deadlines, external motivation/ praise, accountability or anyone telling me what to do and how to do it. While intelligence is somewhat important, there are now other, more important qualities and skills that are valued higher. On days off (and even at work) I struggle A LOT with time management, I don't know how to get things done that have no official deadline, and I fluctuate between being super motivated and not wanting to do anything at all on the daily, to the extent that I can waste a whole day (like today 😢) procrastinating what I need to do even if I take meds, plan it out and break it down for myself...

And then comes the self-hate, and as a perfectionist, I'm so hard on myself and don't feel like I am good enough as I'm not doing enough - because I've been programmed to define success by achievements. This is obviously effecting my mental health (which is clearly dependent on external factors), and this isn't helpful since I know it needs to come from within! I don't know how to self-regulate and I'm not analytical, so I struggle to "look within" without external support or guidance.

How can I prevent self-sabotage and become more stable and thrive?

Any and all tips, ideas or guidance will be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance 😁

9 Replies

In education a lot of your needs are met by other people now you are working all the things you never had to think about are now all in top of your work. Don’t be hard on yourself it’s hard but you should look into ways of looking after your personal needs and in turn work will feel less stressful

DW44 profile image
DW44 in reply to Ceejay123

Thank you!! Easier said than done 😅 any examples or ways to look after yourself?

hey DW44- your self awareness is fabulous!you are spot on- after school- there is no more structure, no more praise, etc… and you are very soot on when you wrote that you rely on external factors for self esteem!!!

so a therapist can give you all kinds of organizational techniques… but my guess is that you already know them due to enjoying academia! i think the true resolution is exactly what you already know- to stop yourself from relying on external factors to feed your perfectionism that define your self worth. yikes!! im 47 n still working on that issue. Its a bitch. by the way- its hard to do bc its worked for sooo long in school so its very etched in your brain now.

A therapist can teach you all kinds of organizational techniques, blah blah blah, my guess is that you already know them since you enjoyed academia… you would probably even like the therapy process if you got to see that measurable progress, however, the real issue would still be looming- relying on external factors to determine your worth. Nothing wrong with thriving on praise. children do. but when you define your entire worth on it as an adult- life is gonna kick your ass. you are already experiencing that.😢

rather its therapy, group setting, self help books, podcasts, whatever your style is-i think that working on that root issue is a great step for you to take as you transition into the adult world. as i mentioned- you have wonderful self awareness. but if you keep it all at surface level ( which is fun and safe and measurable) vs digging in deep n exploring that gray world perfectionism- then i suspect you will develop “ imposter syndrome” - ugh

i have been where you are. i had way less awareness n didnt have an ADHD diagnosis. you have alot of factors on your side. u got this❤️

wtfadhd profile image
wtfadhd in reply to wtfadhd

ps- sorry i repeated myself in the beginning if my 3rd paragraph- im doing 100 things at once but wanted to respond to your post!!! lol- my perfectionism caused me to re read what i wrote n catch that error 😳🤓😜😂

DW44 profile image
DW44 in reply to wtfadhd

Haha I noticed that, no worries - you don’t need to apologise for having ADHD!

I really really love your response and appreciate you taking the time to write all this! Thank you for being so open and relatable and sharing your wisdom.

Exactly, I feel like schools are breeding ground for perfectionism and it’s so unhealthy! It’s unfortunate that schools don’t exactly prepare us for life...

As you said therapy was good at the time and did help but a) after some time you forget things and slip into your old habits, and b) as you said, I’m relying on external support and praise.

Can you recommend any podcasts (or books but I’m not a great reader) that have been helpful for you? What has helped you improve and get to where you are today? I’m glad you eventually got your diagnosis!!

I do have some level of self awareness but I really struggle to dig deeper as you said and identify where things are coming from. Even when prompted I find it difficult and don’t really know what can help except going through a self help workbook with someone else who knows me, but so far I haven’t found been able to find a friend for that.

Interesting about imposter syndrome - I think I’m half way there 😅 I was praised a lot as a kid both in school and out for my talents and skills so I have internalised that they exist and that the success is mine. But since then, my brain tells me they don’t mean anything because I have bigger problems from the skills that I don’t have thanks to my ADHD. While I acknowledge success to be mine and recognise my skills only at the time of success, I deny them the rest of the time. I guess I can compliment myself each day as my therapist at the time suggested, but it just blew up my ego and made me over-confident which wasn’t good! Any suggestions?

wtfadhd profile image
wtfadhd in reply to DW44

hey again,for me- Brene Brown is my go to resource. She has tons of talks on Ted Talk, you tube, etc. google her name. lots of options n topics to choose from without having to read her books. Brene’s work is not focussed on ADHD- its more about working on your own bullsh*t and accepting yourself and connecting with others. nothing lke skills or tools you have to learn, memorize then utilize. its more self examination n whats working n what isnt n why. i think you will love her!

so, im a social worker. for fun last year i took a course called “ positive psychology”. the class was waaaay cooler that abnormal psychology which is what is typically taught. im telling you this bc of one of the chapters in the book was relevant to what you said about colleges failing to prepare young people for life outside of college. this is an ADHD group so i dont want to go into it and bore people but if u private message me we can chat bout it. i think the rest of the group would find it cumbersome to read!!! lol

tell me what you think of Brene Brown!

DW44 profile image
DW44 in reply to wtfadhd

Thank you!! I feel like you are God sent. Will pm you 😊

I actually found her Ted Talk last week and really liked it, and she’s hilarious. I’m gonna check out her other stuff, thanks! If you like her I think you might also like the Ted Talk “There's more to life than being happy” by Emily Esfahani Smith.

Wow you’re doing such incredible and life changing work, I’m in awe! How do you keep on top of everything and everyone (maybe you don’t quite 😜)? I’m fascinated by this chapter, would love to hear more about it privately.

I don't have great advice because I'm just learning to deal with my own ADHD, but you could be describing me, 20 years ago. A total overachiever in school, and then just floundering post-graduation, once the structure and rewards of school went away. It was so shocking and disorienting -- I felt like I didn't understand myself at all. I feel so bad for 21 year old me! So I just wanted to send you some solidarity and congratulate you on figuring this out early. I feel like I wasted so much time. There are lots of techniques and meds out there, and I wish you the best in finding the most effective combo of them, along with best type of job, for you. PS -- I loved grad school. ;)

Thank you!

Wow I’m so sorry you went through this too but glad you got through it! Definitely gives me hope. What helped you?

So relatable, I also couldn’t figure out what was going on for a while. Did you only recently get diagnosed if you’re just learning to deal with your ADHD?

You’re so right about finding the best type of job, I’m still trying to figure it out but enjoying my work for now thank God (it was hard to start with!). What do you do?

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