One of the things about ADHD that many people don’t know about is “the wall.” Well, that’s what I call it anyway. I go on screech for endless days and seem full of an eternal amount of mental energy. Until I’m not. And it comes sudden. I just hit this wall and then all I want to do is curl up in a hole and hide from the world. This cloud of apathy swallows me up and I find it a struggle to get just the every day things done. A deep, aching brain fatigue washes over me. For some reason, the world doesn’t recognize “the wall” as a valid reason for an impromptu vacation from life for a few days so I have to continue to slog through and it completely sucks.
The biggest part of the struggle is the complete oppositeness of it as compared to my every day state of being. Normally, my mind is full of racing and humming thoughts; so many that they are crashing into each other like out of control bumper cars. But once I’ve hit the wall, my mind gets enveloped in cotton. Everything is fuzzy, slow and soft around the edges. Things are so confusing and thinking is like turtles tip toeing with careful effort. I find it like being in an alien land scape. I know these “crashes” or “downs” are a part of having ADHD, but it is so alien. I’ve been this way all my life and have never gotten used to it. I don’t think that I ever will. I hate it. The worst part is that during these times, I have this internal restless drive to do something, to move. But there is no energy for it. No desire. It reaches almost to the same level as the compulsions. I get up and start something, but then I stop because I just can’t make myself. If I can, it is a slow plodding along.
Luckily, these times come infrequently. But they come because our bodies can only push at the break neck speeds for so long before it throws on the breaks and demands that we slow down to get some rest. These low energy times are the other side of the coin to the high energy times. There are a lot of factors that go into this intellectual and emotional fatigue. Low motivation or a low sense of reward from completing tasks may cause tasks to feel more exhausting. Also, decreased executive function can make it more difficult for a person to plan and organize their life, contributing to a sense of chaos that may cause feelings of overwhelm and fatigue. There is a lot of stress related to having ADHD. Missing deadlines, forgetting appointments or misplacing important paperwork is all stressful stuff and completely common place in the ADHD life. Stress makes people tired, having ADHD doesn’t make us immune to that. Rejection sensitivity dysphoria is very common with ADHD and leads to us constantly striving to be our best. This is emotionally exhausting and requires a lot of energy to work at that level all the time.
In a way, ADHD has cycles of energy. This is why it can be misdiagnosed as bipolar. Especially when you also consider the emotional dysregulation that comes with having ADHD it makes this misdiagnosis make more sense. It is common to have these periods in our lives when we just feel low energy and don’t do anything. That can look like depression and it shares a lot of symptoms with depression.