HELP! Motivation issues – my most crippling symptom

//HELP! Motivation issues – my most crippling symptom
The Forums are totally redesigned!
Bad News
You may find some glitches.
We're working on 'em right now.
HELP! Motivation issues – my most crippling symptom 2015-05-11T11:01:39+00:00

The Forums Forums Ask The Community HELP! Motivation issues – my most crippling symptom

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • koishi
    Post count: 13

    I was wondering if anyone else here has debilitating motivation issues?

    Mine are so intense that they’ve caused my life to standstill. My place is a MESS, I fail to keep in touch with friends, I often spend days piddling around doing nothing of value when I have a ton of things (chores, job hunting, cooking, exercise etc) that need doing.

    But it isn’t like I’m lazy. I WANT to clean up the place, get out there and do things… I have the desire and the need. but somehow my “get up and go” button is broken. The motor is stirring, but not catching. It has been like this all my life, and its been a constant struggle. It has certainly added to my depression as well.

    And when I think about “just doing” whatever it is I’m considering, it feels like a lead weight on my brain and sometimes even in my body. Sometimes I can get past it, particularly if there is some pressing need such as running out of clothing to wear (laundry) or company coming over(cleaning). Other days, out of the blue, I have a sudden rush of energy and can actually clean up and do what needs doing (though I’m still not nearly as efficient as most other people on those days).

    For me, it feels similar to depression, but not at all the same because I’m not always sad or feeling depressed, I just don’t have any mojo or fire.

    I know some people say to just get one thing done and the rest will come, and if not then atleast I’ve got one thing done. But it doesn’t work. Even if I do manage to get the one thing, it seems to take up all my juice for the day and then I am back at zero.

    This effect seems to be the most intense after I’ve been socializing for a day. Like it drains my battery entirely and then I need two days for recharging.

    Before I was diagnosed officially with ADHD, I searched for all sorts of remedies. Meditation, herbal supplements, reiki, exercise (that last one helps a tiny bit but is impossible to keep up when not working, I need the structured schedule).

    My psychologist says this is all related to my ADHD and that medication will help, so I am wondering… Does anyone out there have experience with this? What has/hasn’t worked for you? I really need help!!!

    Post count: 958

    Debilitating motivation issues- oh yes, definitely. All my life and getting worse it seems. I have so many things to do that are very important- for real important, not just in my head important- and I just can not even get started. If I do get started I never get finished. As soon as I stop, for any reason, that’s it, I’m done. I can’t even sit down to eat if I want to keep going.

    Some days I can barely move at all. I can’t even convince myself to get something to eat when I’m hungry. And when I do have a good day or two and get some work done, I need days, or weeks to recover afterwards.

    I also feel drained after socializing. When family or friends stop by for an unannounced visit it just destroys the whole day. After they are gone I just sit down and don’t move. Just having people show up unannounced is so stressful and they all know I hate it but they do it anyway. It’s the same when I have to go somewhere to visit or interact with other humans on any level, especially if it’s unexpected. It just sucks the life right out of me.

    So far medication has not made a huge difference for me. But it might be that I  still need it adjusted, or need to try something different. And there is also 4 decades of learned behaviour and bad habits that need to be broken and medication can’t help with that.

    Personally I think a psychologist who just simply says its part of ADHD and medication will help is being unrealistic and unhelpful. It’s just like when my doctor sees me for less than 5 minutes every 3 months and says “so is the medication working?” and then doesn’t even give me a chance to really answer that question.

    I can’t really come up with anything helpful right now. I need help myself. And just saying that makes me fell like lying down and just giving up.

    If I am feeling better tomorrow I will try to be helpful then.


    Post count: 21

    Just look at a number of very recent posts — you are amongst your own.

    Does anyone out there have experience with this? What has/hasn’t worked for you? I really need help!!!

    We welcome you.  We need a lot more like us posting, to compare what helps us. Many of us here have been under long-term regular care of psychiatrists and psychologists. We religiously take prescribed drugs. We try many.  Some work better than others.  Some work for a while, and we start over.

    I’ve been very fortunate.  I spent a childhood and a 40 year career being with people just like us.  The places I worked were extremely successful, productive, and profitable.  The last group I worked for was purchased by a huge international corporation.  During the seven years before they retired me under disability for PTSD/depression/anxiety, we were constantly studied because we were so successful, profitable, and why we had almost zero personnel turnover.  Nobody seemed to notice that most of us were highly functional with ADD/ADHD/OCD/etc., and it caused us to hire people just like us.  All new-hires went through a gauntlet of interviews by eight of our coworkers.  The consensus had to be unanimous to hire a new employee.  Many of us worked at a previous company where every new employee had to have worked with at least three of our staff.  We were really diverse in backgrounds and ethnicity. 

    When the TV show “Monk” came on, we laughed at several of our lunchroom co-workers who counted floor tiles when they went from place to place at work.  If a table or desk was moved just a few inches, they knew it had been moved.

    Life ain’t perfect.  Even “normal” people have their ups and downs.  It just takes a lot more energy for many of us.

    Post count: 22

    Re Motivation

    “Life is short – Eat dessert first”

    It can be hard getting an ADHD brain into gear to get things done. Especially things that the ADHD brain thinks might be BORING!!! (like tidying up and housework)

    Try starting your day, and waking up your brain by doing something that you enjoy, but set a time limit on  it. Then try to get some of the boring stuff done.


    Post count: 13


    Oh goodness, yes the family visiting is awful. I live with my parents, and I’m so grateful for that or else I’d be on the streets (33yrs old and nothing to show, I feel like such a failure). But sometimes I think that living with them is part of what holds me back. I could be more productive within my own space, ya know? but HOW much more productive I am not really sure. As for the meds, here in Ontario there are five medication options to play with. I hear you just need to try them and figure out what works. Sometimes it needs to be a combo of two.

    Regarding the motivation, I spoke with my family doctor for the first time the other day. Turns out his daughter has ADHD so he knows all to well what I am going through. When I mentioned motivation issues, he also said that meds should help, though he wants me to see a psychiatrist who will take over writing prescriptions. The way the psychologist put it, he said that medication is NOT supposed to treat motivation issues. But… when you find the meds that work, competency issues are resolved and brain function is enhanced so motivation will just come naturally. I guess when doing things right, without any screwups doesn’t come with anxiety, triple checking everything and the ability to actually focus(thus getting things done faster – dunno about anyone else but I move like a turtle more often than not) the world is a lot more approachable. That would be my dream come true. I just wish it didn’t come with so much hoop jumping to finally get the meds!! – but that is another story heh

    Post count: 13


    LOL that sounds like a place I would love to work. But with so many scatterbrains, how do you keep things organized?! I guess if most people are on meds it isn’t so bad. It is definitely comforting though, to be connecting with others who have my issue. For years I thought I was defective. Especially since I had been tested for adhd or an LD of some kind and results were inconclusive. Credit to my parents for doing what they could, but even then you can only do so much without doctor intervention (cbt would have been effective as a kid, so I hear). Ah and now I’m gonna have to take another gander at Monk! finding tv shows that interest me has always been a gamble 🙂

    Funny, most of my friends are like that in one way or another. Either ocd, adhd, or a combination of other things. Most have exceptionally high IQs, I think I may be the lowest of the group actually. Not that IQ has any relevance in the modern world!!


    Post count: 13


    I wish that would work. Tried every variation of that suggestion and nothing works. My brain comes up with 100 excuses and reasons until I just give up… I know it should do the trick, but it doesn’t :/

    thanks for the idea!!

    Post count: 13

    Oh and another thing… my anxiety/motivation issues  have led to intermittent agoraphobia. Now I find that one incredibly annoying haha

    Post count: 5

    Hello there!

    I’m curious if you have noticed that you are highly motivated with something, even if it’s a serious time waster like online games or chats or something!

    I was just answering the post here called “I’m so tired” with a similar response to what I’ll say now, if you want to check that one too (in case I forget something)  but I am seriously influenced by Russell Barkley’s videos I’ve been watching lately online.

    He makes the point that ADHD people tend to not even fully mature in the brain until the early 30’s!!!!  We are the prototypical “late bloomers”, are we not?  The good thing, and honestly I can tell this from how you write, is that our gifts can actually be a strength during the worst times. I’m not sure where your particular areas of strength are cognitively, but you have most likely accumulated a lot of information and understanding in your 30-something years.  Now you are frustrated at the continual problem you have with actually doing what you imagine and internally desire to do!

    A huge part of our psychology, IMO (and from what I read) is that we take the SUBJECTIVE just as seriously as the OBJECTIVE.  So therefore, your reality is largely geared towards and colored by your inner dialogue which pretty much never stops.

    If you can write and express yourself, you have a huge opportunity there to get ideas on paper.   That alone can be a strength to take you forward, but the lack of mental organization is a huge obstacle.

    (As you can tell, I want to be a writer and do intellectual work primarilly!)

    So what I’m going to say is what I am gathering from all I read, and what I feel makes sense for ME>  this may work for you too!

    1- I actually was kind of hyperactive in childhood. I remember trying to teach myself to walk on my hands, during recesses for an entire grade or 2!  I also preferred chasing around a soccer ball on my own than talking to other kids all throughout elementary school.   Being that I am definitely the combined type of ADHD, and knowing I still express hyperactivity through my hands (fidgeting, typing at over 110 word per minutes, needing to wiggle in my chair, etc.)  then I need to recognize my physical urge for action.  Therefore, despite how much I hate exercise as an adult,  exercise daily (probably in the morning and at night) is highly necessary.

    2-  ADHD tendency to not feel the reality of future rewards or punishments!  I tend to not be motivated at all by thinking of the future.  If anything, I get a feeling of dread and a sense of not wanting to think about it.  Therefore, I need to create an artificial system of rewards/punishments (aka consquences) for my DAILY life.  I will do this probably with a point system or gold star system, where I can easily add and remove points to see how I am doing, and compare to my past lows and highs of points.  I can get special bonus points for completing key points on a projects.  The points can be spent at night for small online purchases I suppose, but it could also be kept and stored for a later planned reward.  Rewards do not have to be money but they should be honored to yourself at some point, in some way that registers emotionally.   Sometimes speaking the words aloud makes things feel more real too.

    3- Learning how to recharge.   I kind of picture the Star Trek character “Seven of Nine” (ooh la la) when I think of the ADHD need to recharge during the day.  If you get to know your own feelings, you can take yourself OUT of a noisy situation or escape to your private space to meditate or just chill out with your eyes closed.  You need to rest your brain because executive function type of thinking will drain you must faster than a normal person.  But you can easily recharge your mind too, by just taking those time outs for yourself.  This means, nobody can be talking to you during this time, and you are not reading or planning in any way. Not even worries, although I understand the problem of rumination.

    4- Definitely you need to get some basic health checks too, and make sure your vision is still OK (you may need reading glasses) and that you don’t have an undiagnosed sleep problem or vitamin deficiency (more common than people think!) or anything that is zapping your limited mental energy more.  A stressful living situation can do that to us too!

    5- Living spaces can be totally de-cluttered and have signs posted that visually help you connect with your projects or chores!  I never knew this before, but we are not able to keep much in our working memory.  Actually I think I lack a working memory totally!  I have a feeling like I am approaching life like it’s needing a “RECIPE” for every activity, to remind myself constantly of the procedures and processes and the necessary items (which I can NEVER locate when I need them for my current chore or project).   So you can study online about how to streamline your personal space for ADHD.  You may need to finally make DECISIONS about what to keep and what to get rid of….

    6-  Decision making is very difficult, and this is why the environment and also our minds get cluttered.  Speaking more about the psychic clutter, I have become aware that for every interpersonal situation, I am forced to develop at least TWO and sometimes up to FOUR or SIX possible explanations for things.   Carrying around conflicting ideas about people is just driving me insane.  It’s too confusing and even painful, when you just don’t know where you stand with anyone.  The people closest to you will often take on a role of the critic, the judge, the parent, when it’s not appropriate anymore due to your age.  Instead of carrying  around so many conflicting and hurtful views, I am feeling that some good psychotherapy could help me sort all this cognitive confusion out.  I am making huge progress in simply understanding my relationships in the light of how ADHD has affected them.  But i think therapy is going to help more with this.  because…

    7- Learning personal boundaries and how to shield ourselves psychologically does not come natural for us.  If you are like me, you have a hard time seperating yourself from any stress that is occuring around you, and also, you tend to endure far too long without speaking up.  Then you may find yourself at times getting confrontational, as a way to try to manage relationships that are already way out of balance and are not comfortable to you.  Or your frustrations and irritations build, leading to adult temper tantrums.  I am majorly affected by the mood dysregulation of ADHD now, whereas when I was a child, I didn’t think I was as upset or hurt.  I was just internalizing for years.  Now I must deal with all the emotions that were never processed right, and all the life events and interpersonal situations that were not resolved because of my confusion and avoidance at times.


    I think when I take more care, in my own unique way, over these areas, I will experience much relief and also personal comfort on a daily level.  This is my hope!

    Post count: 5

    Oh by the way, I kind of disagree with the psychologist you mentioned, who said that motivation would come naturally from the medication.  I think it’s possible to feel better in general, and then maybe you enjoy the processes even if they are boring.  But i think that the cognitive deficits are never going away, no matter how much medication you take.  And the experience of remembering what to do, when to do it, and why are all governed by the frontal lobes and the executive processing. Even your sense of self, as a stable self-construct, is damaged through the descreased activity in the frontal lobes (ADHD in a nutshell).   So you tend to lose a sense of yourself in relation to your projects, which to me sounds like a classicly nerdy way of saying “I lost my motivation” (i.e. your sense of self being IN that project, that the project makes you feel more accomplished or whatever).

    Post count: 5

    lol I just remembered something else that I have been thinking about in the context of motivation and the need for ADHDers to rest their minds through either meditation or some mindfulness practice, or just chilling out in a quiet and comfortable spot:

    I think if you do this, you will find that your mind starts to work better while laying down or resting.  We tend to be global thinkers, as most of our brain activity that flows (the circuits of the mind that do function well) is in the higher brain and the side of the brain, as well as the deep brain I suppose (I don’t know that).    So what will happen to me, is that if I was faithful to keep my work/project in mind, then I will experience “insights” that are very intrinsically rewarding about my current project.

    I often experience the frustration that i will forget what I had the “insight” or motivating new idea about.  So I need to get a small tape recorder or something for my bedside.  I do have a journal and pen though, and I have written down a lot of really encouraging new ideas there.

    I think that if you keep yourself somewhat more connected to whatever it is you are doing, and if you keep looking for daily “magic moments” such as feelings of AHA about yourself and your life, or just ideas that run through your head, whether practical or not.  Then you can keep at least a sense of a journey and that your experiences are relevant to your progress, even though they may not seem practical at the time.

    I’m  not sure if this makes sense to you though!  It totally works in my case just because what I really want to work on is more intellectual based.


    A forgotten issue: TIME:

    Now, for the get up and go thing, pertaining to reluctance to clean up or whatever, you may benefit also from knowing that time is not really real to us.  Deadlines lack reality, and we often don’t even look at the time or manage how much time we spend on the tasks.  Then I know how it goes: You majorly burn out and don’t want to even do those tasks because you know from experience you will enter into a sort of private hell, where you feel trapped doing things for too long.  A lot of people will introduce timers or alarms and also keep calendars and clocks around like crazy.  I hate wearing a wrist watch because my skin is too sensitive for the strap so I will find something else like a pin-style watch.

    The idea is that you should work in bursts and not try to spend more than the comfortable amount of time, for YOU, to do that chore.  And you need reminders to go off, to get you back to doing your next session of work.  For me, in 1 hour of time, I should probably work not longer than 20 minutes at a time, following by a 20 minute break, so that means working about 40 minutes per hour!  I’d work 20, then take 20 break, then work 20 and either break for an hour or work another hour like that.  But at some point, I would quit for the day as that would be a LOT for me right now.

    When a person gets medicated, they need to plan ahead to work during the day hours for their particular drugs efficacy time.  I understand that some meds wear off quicker, and you re-dose.  Or you would just plan to take 1 extended release, but chill out after 8 pm.  I would not even take medication unless I had a plan in place to work on some basic simple schedule during that time, otherwise it would turn into medicated gaming sessions for me!

    Post count: 35

    Hi daycruncher, forgive me – I found myself jumping through your posts….because I have ADHD! Koishi, if you can find any interest at all that engages  you – anything! this will sow a seed of objective interest that you can build upon. I know it is hard, but it is though an interest that the world opens up. If you like swimming – take a short course in teaching children to swim, and see where this takes you. If you like cooking and eating…take a first level course in catering and see where this takes you….and so on. First steps really matter, and they must connect to something within yourself. Stuff happens when you do something that you genuinely like and enjoy.

    PS – I have also experienced agarophobia, and my therapist helped me to understand that it is not a fear of open spaces, but a fear of leaving home. Massive. CBT has helped a lot, and I am past this now, but very careful and mindful on a weekly basis. Try not to shrink your life any further without CBT help.

    Post count: 1

    I just can’t get up and get cleaning done

    That Guy with ADHD
    Post count: 43

    That’s a classic lolo222.  Especially with something as boring as housework.  Even at my best I would rather be doing anything but that.  Tasks that are boring, time consuming, or overly challenging can make me run the other way.  Unless, of course, if I am interested in the activity.  I can spend hours happily rearranging the furniture but avoid cleaning the bathroom until I can’t stand it in there anymore.

    Good luck on doing your chores.

    That Guy with ADD

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.