ADHD Paralysis is Frustratingly Real. Here’s How to Fix it.

A “busy day” can involve doing absolutely nothing at all when you have ADHD, but it’s not hopeless.

Austin Harvey
Published in
7 min readJun 2, 2021

--

Photo by KoolShooters from Pexels

Imagine being strapped to a chair, hands tied, while a fly buzzes around your head. You know the fly is there. You can hear it zipping past your ear, but you can’t swat it away. Now imagine a swarm of flies buzzing around your head. It would be an absolutely miserable feeling, but you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

For many adults with ADHD, this is an everyday reality. Well, metaphorically, at least. While we may not have actual bugs cartoonishly hanging about our heads, we do have the consistent nagging of thoughts that swirl tornado-like on the inside, and that can often give the same effect as being strapped to a chair.

ADHD targets, among other things, the brain’s executive functions: the ability to start, organize and sustain effort on a task. The results are analysis paralysis and procrastination. When we use the term “ADHD Paralysis,” what we’re referring to is that feeling of the fly buzzing around your head — you know you are meant to do a task, but you find it impossible to make any forward progress with it.

The Importance of Understanding Your Condition

If I’ve learned anything from before my diagnosis, it’s that, to others, it can be highly frustrating. My mom would get mad at me in high school for forgetting things or tuning out during a conversation (having “my head in the clouds,” as she’d say). An ex-girlfriend criticized me for starting creative projects but abandoning them when I hit a hurdle or lost interest. Valid criticism on both fronts, for sure, but to me, it felt unjustified.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to finish things; I just couldn’t. Without understanding the underlying reasons for this, though, I couldn’t do anything to change it.

An ADHD diagnosis is tricky, especially in adults. Often, it’s misdiagnosed as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, or mood disorders, among others. In other cases, such as mine, you might have a combination of these. Depression, for example, can mask the more obvious effects of ADHD — things such as…

--

--

Austin Harvey
Invisible Illness

Writer, editor, and podcast host. Currently a staff writer at All That's Interesting. Host of History Uncovered and Conspiracy Realists.