Adult ADHD

ADHD: Delusional Optimism Strikes Again

One of my most plaguing ADHD symptoms is what I like to call delusional optimism.

Perfect example came this morning when I actually remembered to request a refill of my stimulant medication before running out. However, when they asked me if I wanted the prescription mailed to me or would I like to pick it up, I first said I would pick it up. I would be passing by that way later in the week anyway and…WHAT WAS I THINKING?! I revised, and said “there’s no way I’ll remember to pick it up, please mail it to me, thank you”. She sounded weary. She answers phones at a mental health center. She probably has phone calls like this with ADHDers all the time. I’d be weary too.

I try to nip my delusional optimism in the bud as often as possible. I find that by doing JUST that, I reduce the chaos in my life significantly. Nipping it though, is the challenge. It’s just so automatic for me to say or think things like:

  • Sure, I can help you with that.
  • Oh you don’t have to do that, I’ll drop it off for you.
  • Why not, I’m not that busy this week (never true), I’d love to come participate in a panel discussion (this part IS true!)
  • Impossible odds? Those don’t apply to me.
  • Fabulous, let’s meet up for coffee.

I could go on and on, but my point is that every one of these statements, in its own way, would be a lie if it wasn’t so honestly well-intended. Wow, see how I did that there, I even tried to justify it. Let’s try that again: EVERY ONE OF THESE STATEMENTS IS A LIE. I love to help people, make appearances, meet up to help people with their problems, love to hear people’s ideas for new projects (that usually somehow involve more of a time commitment from me), tackle impossible projects that stimulate my need for a dopamine rush, do favors for people, but the problem is that I am already overcommitted and I simply don’t have time. I WANT to do all of these things, but I shoot myself in the ass with things like this, routinely.

I’m writing about this just now, because I’m working really hard at not doing it. And it’s WORK to not do it.

I cut down the number of ways that people can get ahold of me. I am saying “no” a lot. I am even saying no to things that I do as a matter of tradition, because those traditions are not serving me, and are making my life difficult.

I’m done lying to MYSELF. I’ve written before about the impact of lies on other people…but some of my worst and most life disabling lies, are the ones I tell myself. I know that it’s really just ADHD impulsivity, but I have to completely reframe it as lying to myself, to focus myself on the fact that it’s really bad and I need to stop doing it.

Delusional optimism is killing me. I need to get everything on my plate either completed, or OFF of my plate, to stop the cycle. It’s working…but I have to continue the work until my ability to stop myself becomes easier, more routine. I feel good about the work I’ve done so far…but there is much more to be done.

I have to be honest with myself about the things I either won’t remember, or won’t follow through on. It puts me in a more honest relationship with the world and with myself. I hope it will also help me remedy my near constant feeling of failure. I don’t want to live with that feeling anymore.


3 thoughts on “ADHD: Delusional Optimism Strikes Again

  1. omg. that just hit me like a ton of bricks. I was just diagnosed this year, and I can remember myself saying every single one of those statements….and until now I had no idea that it may have been related to the ADD… tonight….missed the cookie exchange with the girls because my son was sick…..waited until hubby was home and drove 1/2 hour at night to go into the city dropping off cookies all over town even though I wasnt feeling well, because I felt so guilty I couldnt make it and that people had brought over cookies for me. But for every thing I extend myself to do, there is another thing I say I would do, but I dont…..and cancel…or reschedule….LIES.

    I just found your blog, and will look through it for any tips you may have given for dealing with organization, etc…


  2. Katy, I just found your blog via ADDitude. Nicely written posts, and I appreciate your honesty. I can completely relate to the idea of “Delusional Optimism.” The worst part for me is that by not saying “no” or not making things easy for myself, I find myself completely overloaded and vulnerable to a panic attack. And what I’m not saying “no” to isn’t anything related to saving the universe, but is more around agreeing to a play date for my kids when it’s not convenient, or taking on a household chore because I’m not the main breadwinner right now. Thanks again for sharing your insights and putting yourself out there.

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