April 2018
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what ADHD overload is like for me: tangled brain, unable to speak, hyper sensitized, clumsy, inept

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

I realized the other day that people who are not on the A-spectrum (Autism, Aspergers, ADHD) probably have no idea what it is like to experience brain overload, so I want to try to explain. When I am dealing with ADHD overload, all these things are true:

[trying to think is painfully difficult and focusing is worse]
Trying to think at all is like trying to think with a massive headache; it takes a deliberate effort and it feels like a strain that almost hurts. Trying to focus my thoughts feels like when I haven't eaten for many hours and delicious food smells keep wafting by-- every single time, my attention is pulled away. But it's happening with every little sound or movement.

[everything is too loud]
Also, all senses are heightened and not in a good way. Things I normally wouldn't even notice become so loud and annoying they make me want to scream -- the sound of paper sliding as someone turns the page of a book feels like someone scraping dull blades across my skin. I get deeply upset by an uncomfortable chair, hot room, or any smell. All I want is for the stimuli to STOP.

[uttering words is a struggle and sometimes impossible]
Trying to speak, trying to utter words feels like trying to jump when I have been walking for so long that my legs feel shaky and it takes a constant effort of will to make each step. Opening my mouth and coordinating my tongue with my thoughts feels like lifting my arms after I just carried something too heavy for way too long. It just feels like so much work that I can't do it. I can think a string of words but pushing them out is nearly impossible. Sometimes when I do manage words they come out garbled and they always are short, labored phrases.

[and I cannot do anything right]
Trying to to do things feels like when I haven't slept for so long that all my muscles ache and I am moving slow and dropping things. I'm clumsy and constantly fucking up and every time it happens I want to cry and scream. And it just keeps happening no matter how careful I am or how much I am used to doing it perfectly.

So when I say I am having an ADHD overload day, it doesn't only mean that I am extra scatterbrained and forgetful -- that's actually the least bad of the symptoms. It is like having a bad cold, but cognitive (thinking) rather than respiratory (breathing). I love my ADHD brain with all its daily quirks -- except when I am in overload.

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hana_broom ══╣╠══
thanks for posting this - interesting to hear about how ADHD and autism can affect people xxx
darkestgarden ══╣╠══
I relate to a lot of this, being on the spectrum. Thank you for sharing.
wretched ══╣╠══
Thank you for sharing this, I can definitely relate! There are days when my ADHD lets me do everything, I'm the master of multitasking. But then there are days like everything you've described, where I can't do anything and don't want to do anything but curl up in a ball of silence.
alicroc ══╣╠══
This is super helpful, my daughter, who will be 12 next week, often complains of hyper sensitivity to sound, she's not been diagnosed with ADHD but she has been diagnosed with anxiety. We recently started her on a low dose of meds and it's worked WONDERS for her concentration, mood and overall attitude.

However, prior to that, it was super hard for me to understand how little tiny noises would set her off. Thank you for that description because it helps me to better understand, better parent and better empathize with what it must feel like for her also.
esvoljtab ══╣╠══
This resonates with my experience, too
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Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.