The ADHD Meltdown


the ADHD meltdown

I had the ADHD meltdown of a lifetime a few weeks ago.

Here is the audio version of this post:

As you may know, one of the less-attractive symptoms of having ADHD is the emotional dysregulation.

Generally, meltdowns happen to me about 2 times per year and usually involve my family, my business, and not having my needs met for alone time. I am an introvert, so if I don’t get time to recharge it builds up until I explode.

My ADHD meltdown broken down into parts:

Family issues

I had a conversation with a family member. I thought it went ok.

Apparently I misread the situation because I got several harassing emails from the person. Initially I didn’t think much of this because it is typical of the pattern of our relationship.

But some of the creepier comments wormed their way into my subconscious mind.

Since it happened on a Monday it set the tone for the rest of the week.

Weird book group discussion

In typical Liz fashion, I felt my meds wearing off in the middle of my ADDA book discussion group. Dr. Michelle Frank was there and while she explained the section of the book we had chosen, I slipped into mind drama:

  • What was I supposed to talk about?
  • OMG Dr. Frank is not going to be my friend anymore.
  • She shouldn’t have to explain this because I’m tongue-tied.
  • ADDA is not going to let me do support groups anymore, I suck.
  • Everyone here must think I’m a total moron.

I love doing support groups. That is my whole business. But my mind was not in a good place that night, so I predicted failure before it even started.

The Realization

By Thursday of that week I realized my energy was becoming very negative.

I didn’t have the motivation to do anything. No writing, no podcast.

I was showing up the Enclave, and that energy was helping me. But as soon as our meetings were over I was back to feeling like crap.

You know how sometimes you get so in your head you are going through the motions but none of it MEANS anything? The spark is just gone.

That’s where I was.

How I came back from the ADHD meltdown

First I had to accept that I was in a, “mood.”

I was feeling very reactive and disconnected from myself and my normal purpose.

First, I forced myself to brain dump. I’ve discussed journaling before, but this was more of a negative thought download. I needed to see it on paper and work backward in order to figure out where it started.

This process took me a couple hours, and it was not fun. You might want to do this in a word document if you aren’t someone who likes writing by hand.

As I worked backward, I began to ask myself questions both in my head and on paper.

Did I behave badly during that conversation?

Did I really do a bad job during the book discussion?

As you get further into your brain dump, questions will start to come up naturally. Use those questions to look at the facts. Often we think*** we screwed up, or the sky is falling and the reality is quite different from our perception.

As I got more clarity on what happened, and what didn’t, I was able to see things more clearly.

What you might notice as you work through your own meltdown is that at the heart of everything you are exhausted. Overwhelmed with life. ADHD has a way of making us feel that way.

Take a break

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. We with ADHD need to know when it’s time to rest.

Not just sleep, but actually take a brain break.

Remove some of the pressure you put on yourself and just relax in whatever form works for you. Reading, trash tv, working out.

Sometimes we think we don’t deserve to relax. We have to work twice as hard as everyone else so we can prove we are productive.

I’m calling BS.

The ADHD Meltdown will happen. It’s not IF so much as WHEN.

Just know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you are not in this alone.

Just for fun I will leave you with this.  Regina George!

4 comments on “The ADHD Meltdown

  1. Love your “this is not me” picture. It captures perfectly what this kind of day feels like. Thanks for keeping your word and posting even though there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for you (yet). Thanks for revealing your world even though our natural instinct is to hide our difficulties and keep up the appearance of “everything is just fine, thanks, why do you ask, is my pain showing, sorry if is it bothering you.” Personally, I’m still in the closet online. Congratulations on your “coming out.”

    • Joan-
      Thank you so much for commenting! I love comments.
      That picture just seemed to fit with the situation, you know? I like getting my work out there in front of other people.
      Even if the feedback is negative (or nonexistent) I feel like it might help someone else.
      Do you plan to stay “in the closet” online? sorry, I am always so curious about everyone.
      If you want to respond I will not “approve” it so it stays private. Come Back soon!

  2. Sometimes I think the meltdowns are one of the hardest things about having ADHD. Nothing makes me feel like an incapable adult like an hour long sobbing screaming meltdown.

    • Anna-
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I know what you mean about not feeling “capable”.
      I often feel like if I cannot hold myself together without either screaming or crying, I am some kind of failure.
      I didn’t cry yesterday if you can believe it?! How often do you have a meltdown? For me it builds over time.

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