The Last Minute Panic Shuts Me Down Instead of Motivating Me



Hi, I’m new to the forum. I have known I have had ADHD for a while, but only recently got diagnosed and understood the bigger picture. My therapist thinks I was misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety instead of ADHD and PTSD. So I’m still sorting through that.

I have a very taxing, but self managed job that requires a lot of self motivation. I can get through most of it because I am dedicated to and love the mission, plus it is challenging. But getting through the tough daily stuff is killing me. Especially getting back to people via email, calls or texts. And I have identified a very specific trap for myself…

I procestinate until I reach panic, but unlike some other people I have read about, the panic just shuts me down now, instead of motivating me. Do other people experience this with ADHD? Is it possible this shut down panic is more of a PTSD thing?

I think it is ADHD, because the work I panic about is complex and lots of times involves other people who can be mad at me (sometimes i have had nothing to do with it, it’s just part of the job, but sometimes it is cause i didn’t call them back!). I’ve been reading a lot about the hyperactivity of feelings and can relate, I want to shut down and take a nap just thinking of calling these people. I also can’t just push through some of these things, I need to do my research and have to call at specific times.

I am looking for anyone to relate to and any ideas to help specifically on how to get back to people who may be upset or angry or how to break either the procrastination part or work through the panic to get the hard parts done.

Thank you so much, this forum has been so helpful, i have started a bullet journal, which helped me identify what was causing the panic.


Hello, I don’t have much experience or knowledge of PTSD so please bear this in mind.

It sounds to me like fairly typical ADHD behaviour, avoiding the dreary, boring, difficult tasks and focusing on the stimulating ones instead. Trouble is we tend to get into these cycles, the more we practice avoidance, the harder it is to get started. This is the root origin where phobias start, the only way to deal with it is confront it head on.

Try to get as many of these boring jobs out of the way as soon as possible. Crossing these tedious jobs off the to-do list reduces the buildup of stress from having these jobs nagging at the back of your head, that turns them from chores into something larger. The ones that need to be scheduled can be put in the bullet journal, or start a new one specifically for work if you need to.

If someone is angry with slow progress or whatever, apologise on a professional level and extend your sympathy and reassure them that your are working towards a solution. Accept that they may be in a difficult situation, which is causing them stress, and it is not your sole responsibility. It sounds like it will be part of the job as long as you are there, so best to build yourself some psychological armour to put on at work and be able to take off when you leave otherwise it will lead to burnout. Reassure yourself that you are doing the best you can do and helping people with their problems, they just might not fully appreciate it at the time.


I can relate to this a lot. I think you may have two different things going on. I will tell you something of my experience in case that helps.

I procrastinate about things that I hate doing like washing dishes, cleaning the house, organizing papers, stuff like that. Important but boring admin chores, like filling out paperwork for an application or whatever. It’s extremely clear to me that the adrenaline triggered by waiting for the last minute to do such things is what allows me to get it done. This, for me, does not feel like anxiety. It is adrenaline, and in fact, sometimes it feels very much like anger. Sometimes I literally have to get angry to get the house clean!

I am also in a situation where I have to deal with many people (calls, emails, in-person meetings) that I really don’t want to deal with, often in conflict/stressful circumstances and high-stakes decision/authority circumstances, and sometimes where there are bad feelings and a history of issues. I get “shut down” when I am anticipating these interactions because of anxiety, and that is definitely related to trauma.

In my case, it’s not the same thing, but sometimes the two overlap. Waiting until the last minute to do some dead-boring paperwork that is purely administrative so that I can get an adrenaline rush is different from being incredibly anxious while anticipating a high-stakes, stressful meeting, but sometimes the boring paperwork is associated with the high-stakes situation, and so it triggers the same anxiety. That’s just one example. I am under multiple, major stressors right now that I perceive as extremely traumatic (triggering past trauma, creating new trauma), so at this point, anything that gets added to my to-do list triggers shut-down level anxiety.


Thank you Neil and Anjikun. These are really helpful perspectives. I want this panic to just disappear, but I know it is never that easy. I can see how I keep creating this phobias and good steps to move away from strengthening the phobias (bigger armor, less avoidance, identification of my anxiety versus adrenaline). I am still avoiding my things, but slowly working through them piece by piece. I hope you are able to get through the things you are working on Anjikun and get to a calmer place.