Yesterday I thought I did it ALL ...

Yesterday I thought I did it all, but then I realized, I didn’t do much at all.

My sense of how the day was going, and afterwards how it went, was initially quite positive. I had managed to get my pills into me very early in the day, when I’m supposed to. I had gotten up a bit earlier than usual, and although I did take two power-naps through the course of the day, I was more alert and awakened than I expected, all day long. I wrote in my journal when I had planned to write in my journal, doing (among other writing) the “daily practice” exercises from Crappy Childhood Fairy which help me so much, as long as I don’t skip doing them. I wrote some of a short-story I had wanted to get started on. I looked at painting videos, arranged my paint box, got ready for going out for a plein air session (today). Finished the latest novel I’m reading, finished a bunch of silly errands, ate only high-protein and eschewed high-carbohydrate foods, got all my medicines onto my skin in the right places (for mild psoriasis and/or folliculitis). In the evening I went to the gym, had a good run, did some yoga and some core training. It was a day full of all the things I really wish I could manage to do on every day.

I actually have a list of things I can do “when I have free time to waste,” in order that I don’t waste free time. It has stuff on it like blowing up a beach ball (good for my asthma, and to prevent any emphysema, which runs in my family); or practicing scales on my chromatic harmonica; or reading a chapter in a novel; and so on. I was doing really well yesterday, spending all my time doing only those things. I didn’t play Solitaire on the internet for hours on end. I didn’t even play Web Sudoku on the internet for hours on end.

Then I realized … hey, this has been a productive day, happy, relatively stress free, BECAUSE I DIDN’T GO TO WORK. I had all this extra time in which I could … well … get myself COLLECTED so that I didn’t feel stressed. And then, because I didn’t feel stressed, and therefore I did feel collected, I didn’t feel the need to take a break from the hectic schedule by hiding out in playing internet Solitaire. I didn’t feel the need to unplug and run away from life. Instead, I did a bunch of good things FOR the betterment of my life. I was running TOWARDS life.

I liked it. It was a great feeling, of somehow having power over my own time instead of being the victim of time’s vagaries. Then I realized, I could only do this if I’m not working. I have so far made zero dollars and zero cents this entire year, because I have no job. I help out my parents, live with them, amble my way about the byways of life, don’t do anything “adult.” I can’t manage to hold down a job because it’s such a drain on my psyche, such an invasion of my sense of my own “right to be me.” I won’t be able to afford to just sponge off of mom and dad forever, and they will also run out of money as they get older and then pass away, so, I frankly HAVE TO manage to get an income somehow. I’m in my 50s, for heaven’s sakes! I could get a dang job, right? My own place? Don’t I want to “start adulting” like the rest of my peers?

No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I can handle it. It’s not that I’m emotionally immature – I don’t cheat people, or lie a lot, or try to get away with wrong acts; I don’t act rude, or have a weak grasp of social conventions (although we all make a blunder now and again); and so forth, in so many other senses I am not someone who is free-loading his way through life, acting more like a child than he really ought to act. But on the subject of income, work, regular attendance (or, ANY attendance) at a workplace, making money, having a job? Can’t do it.

So, I had a great day yesterday. It was absolutely normal. But all that this wonderfully normal day taught me was, that I can’t manage to have a normal day when I also have a job. And yet the job is the mandatory part, and the sense of happy wonderful normalcy is the optional part. So, am I going to have to give up on the happy and wonderful part just to participate in the job part? It makes me so sad …


Don’t be sad, the answer will come to you one day.

It is really cool that you were so productive! At the moment, you can afford to eat and be warm. So keep on building these excellent patterns and habits, and meanwhile be on the lookout for ‘work’ that you can do that brings in money while not bringing all the bad stuff you don’t manage.

So, for example, one day you might just be in the right place at the right time to get paid to live in someone else’s house being helpful. Because they are getting forgetful or less mobile and they never had kids, or their kids live hundreds of miles away.

Or someone might want to pay to you be a mystery shopper at various gym facilities or something.

Or you might be just going through life being yourself, being helpful by choice and not getting paid for it, and find that there is volunteer work that you can do that you really enjoy. Which eventually even leads to a paid role that you still enjoy.

You might meet and mutually fall in love with someone who is very good at earning money and loves hanging out with you, and sees your voluntary work and social networking as being a cool way to manage being charitable and earning money - as a family unit you would have all bases covered. If you had kids then you would save loadsamoney on childcare costs if you do the fulltime parenting thing.

There are millions of things that are work that are not 9-5 jobs.

Many years ago I realised I was not very good at holding down a regular fulltime job. I was often in danger of getting sacked because of my adhd behaviour (which I didn’t even know was adhd). So I took several part-time jobs instead of one big one. It gave me a lot of the stimulation my brain needed and I figured (correctly) that I was unlikely to ever screw them all up at the same time. Better still, even screwing them up one at a time was less likely to get me into trouble, because I would be less vital to the whole organisation and that would help buy me some time to fix things before anyone too important noticed.

ENJOY the fact you can have successful days. Just because they’re unpaid doesn’t mean you didn’t do well. You did. You are a great human being and you contribute to society in a positive way. You do not have to be rich, you do not have to get your own place (unless at some point you want to). If you are lucky enough to get on with your parents well enough to live with them, that is not childish! It’s completely normal in many cultures. In fact, once parents get old enough to need help, it is a huge benefit to society if someone, like their offspring, is able to help out.

Forget what seems to be ‘expected’. If you and your parents are happy with this setup for now, it’s not broken and doesn’t need fixing.

Things will turn out fine!


Thanks for that reply. They all seem very nice, the various possibilities that you think up for my next life’s trajectory. I just FEEL at the present as though those possibilities are simply pipe-dream type fantasies. I know I know … you don’t have to have a “normal” job (regular attendance at 9-to-5 ((which means 8-to-6)) workplace) in order to have a happy or financially rewarding life, I know I know I know … I just forget forget forget. :frowning:


What are your hobbies, or things you like doing? What about them gives you the drive to keep doing them? (Honestly asking, I think out of the answers it may be a new career path might be findable that would require little to no retraining. And any employment is better than none, at least starting out… right)

I fell into doing IT cause, well… I grew up with a dad who was a flight sim tech, so computers were always around. Dad and I built PCs together. For me, that was normal. It’s weird to me that some folks don’t … so I never thought of IT as a career because obviously I don’t know enough, I’m just a plebe with average computer know how…
Turns out it was a really good choice for me, and now that I am on meds and able to really parse my thoughts and such clearly, I know what I want to be when I grow up (finally, at 35 years old). So now I am pursuing that.
Maybe you have a hobby that has enough interest that is native in it for you that you can keep up with all the icky parts that will come along.
Also, had an ADHD coach remind me that you can try and find (or change in the interview process or after) a job that will use your strengths and minimize the weakspots. I.E. for me, I am better in a crisis, and suck at paperwork. So when your infrastructure takes a massive hit, I’m your dude. Another member of my team can work with me on the documentation part to make sure it gets recorded right, or that would be another persons job.


Thanks for your thoughts, very kind of you. Alas, but …

No, wrong. See, for me, that’s the problem. I don’t WANT a job. I HATE going to jobs. I HATE doing the “work” part of work. I’m bright, well educated, have always done good work (in my own, though admittedly biased, opinion), but have never been able to stomach the other parts of work – regularity, attendance, time-pressure, expectations, deadlines, supervisors, supervisees, work-settings, commutes, sleep denial, food denial, competitive co-workers, non-competitive co-workers, HUMAN co-workers … it all puts me into panicked dysregulated emotionally distressed mode. Why? Well, because I have that type of ADHD. That’s just the way it is. So, “any employment” is not, really, better than none at all, for me, because none at all means, at least, that I’m not gnawing my innards out just because of the fact of having to go to work. I don’t know where the anxiety comes from, the unhappiness, but for me, the complaint is not, that I “don’t like work,” it’s that I CAN’T DO IT without emotional breakdown.

Therefore, my inquiry is a bit off of the question of, simply, finding good (or decent; or, ANY) employment. I’m not looking in specific for employment. Employment itself is not my goal, especially not a J.O.B. type of job. Rather I’m looking (somewhere?) for financial emergency support. I guess it probably has to come from work, but the income is the reason, not the work in and of itself. (BTW, I know that you probably understood that fact, but sometimes keeping the eye on exactly the diction and the point of the discussion through its nit-pickiest language can help to clarify, prevent miscommunication, anyway.)

I’m educated. I have two post-graduate degrees from fine North American educational institutions, many experiences in study from a variety of programs abroad too, and I have passed the Attorney’s Bar Exam for two States. So, I’m legally an attorney, with full rights and in good standing. Doing legal work isn’t a problem for me. I do it well. But doing it for money, or doing it AGAIN, or doing it as a mandate for a J.O.B. job is very much a problem, see paragraphs above.

Hobbies? I have many artistic hobbies. I am learning to paint, I write creatively, I think I’m a pretty good poet, I hope to move further into short-stories (as long as I can continue to keep ADHD from getting in the way!) and stage-plays, I play several instruments (poorly, not well enough to perform). I go to the gym (I wish I’d do it more regularly, like, without the ADHD thing … heh …) and played competitive soccer throughout my youth and young adulthood. I read voraciously and hate TV (except for breaking news, and when my favorite soccer team is playing). I don’t lack outlets or interests, and I’m not unaware that my interests could lead to potential employment. I’m always following up on that.

For me, the question isn’t, how or where or what to do for a job. Rather, the question is, how to create emotional balance and how to reduce my extreme ADHD-based anxiety and hatred of my life, DURING the job. The problem isn’t, “what to do” for work but much more, “how not to go ballistic” at work and because of work. Sure, I can go out and wave my resume around and get some sort of lower-tier legal work immediately (I guess? maybe not … but it looks like I could); but then when I get to the office, my skin starts to crawl and I begin to worry that, if I keep it up much longer, I might start to lose my emotional balance, get violent, start to harm myself or others (probably not; I suspect that I would have the sense to depart the workplace before that), just ACT OUT my hatred of the life of working through negative behaviors that are not going to help me get income, behave appropriately in the workplace(s), keep the job. I manage not to act emotionally out much, because I don’t go to work much. If I go to work, the overwhelming need to be an emotional basket-case gets forced on me very very quickly.

I guess, I’m just ranting a bit here, again. I’ve done it before, sorry, but this board is always so supportive and maybe I need it. I hope I am communicating a bit the idea that it’s the ACT OF working that drives me batty. Thanks for your suggestions, Judas-The-Hammer, anyway, and sorry to take you to task for barking up the (slightly) wrong tree. Maybe you’re right, maybe if I took on something like painting soccer pictures on the harmonica (uh … ?) I’d discover that it pays very very well (uh … not … ?) and I’d end up loving it so much that I wouldn’t go bat-stir-crazy from the act of doing it. But so far I haven’t found something like that dream, and additionally haven’t been able to participate in the intermediate case, of something that pays reasonably (or, at ALL) which also makes me go only a little bit bat-stir-crazy. There seems to be no in-between-ground with me. Either I’m not working, and therefore can maintain emotional balance; or, I have work, and therefore will soon need to be institutionalized, unless I quit work within the next week. That’s just how it is, so it seems, to me, from inside this ADHD-headed experience of mine, the way it’s going to be, my essential make-up, my natural responses.

Of course, I don’t EXPECT an income without some kind of working for it. I don’t mean to sound like I just want free money, and I am fully aware that re-casting this complaint of mine could sound very much like I wish to be an unreasonably highly privileged member of some sort of idle aristocracy. I certainly don’t feel that way, so, please hear me with a bit of charity if it seems like I do feel that way. Rather than wanting indulgence, free income, a life free of toil, I’m really actually asking for the OPPORTUNITY for hard work. It’s just, that I have to have that work ensconced within some sort of context that is manageable for me. I want the chance to contribute to our society, to earn my own keep, to earn my own way and pay for it, to be a realistically participating member of this world, and all of those things come in some form or another through workplaces, employment, money-for-work arrangements. And yet, as explained, when any of those arrangements get going for me, I go bat-stir-crazy, antsy, feel anxious, can’t get my errands done because there’s so much work expected of me, don’t feel like I have time to breathe sleep and eat much less get to work and get all the demands finished on time. What I’m looking for, is not, “free money,” but rather, a FAIR TRADE-OFF between the effort that I put in, and similarly the productivity that I produce, as exchanged for the reward (usually financial; also, satisfaction and emotional stuff too?) that I reap. I haven’t ever had that, because I have to TRY SO MUCH HARDER (due mostly to ADHD, obviously). So, I complain, that I want some … other arrangement … of some sort.

Some other arrangement, but what is it? I don’t know. I can’t identify it and don’t know what it is. I know I’m “a creative” and can’t, therefore, identify just how many widgets I will create in the next hour, nor can I remain consistently within a predictable hourly rate for widget creation from that hour to the subsequent one. I am sometimes brilliant, in unpredictable fits and starts, but I am also, more often, utterly useless, because I’m emotionally fried out by the workplace, and I’m unable to change either of those facts. Employers, and the capitalist system as a whole, have no place for me in which to fit me into their schemes and needs. It’s not their fault, not my fault, I try not to blame others (neurotypical people) for wanting me to be more like them. But I have to admit the fact, that I am not like them, even though they create maintain and perpetuate the systems that we will have to fit into, in order for us to get some money from them.


I take it you are tired of feeling stuck, but arnt you in a position to keep it simple. If you are do just that. Keep it simple. Can you managed a two houre walk every day. Nothing else but joy the rest of the day. Walk one houre one way, then turn back home. Try it for a week, and let me know how that went. Ill be here to cheer on you.


I understood you the first time and realised as I was making my suggestions that there was a risk that having something you enjoy turn into a job might stop you enjoying it.

I have this worry too. I can do someone else’s washing up with actual pleasure, while I have a stack at home waiting for me.

And I love volunteering and helping people out but struggle to do the important stuff. And I don’t even have the added meltdown factor, which must make the situation a million times worse.

I think the answer has to be in kidding yourself it’s not work.

I know someone with a very flexible set up: he has MS, so by definition cannot predict when he will be able to work or not. He was lucky enough to have self-employed parents who could gladly use his help when he could give it, but were able to take up the slack when he couldn’t. They did pay him a wage for actual work done, but he was also sure of food and a roof over his head when he couldn’t work. It didn’t matter how long those periods lasted. Most people with MS are dependent on having a flexible and understanding employer, but this level of flexibility is virtually impossible if you have a ‘normal’ job. The reality is that other people with his medical problems work too hard when they shouldn’t, so their health suffers, and at a certain point the company lets them go because they can no longer be reliable/capable enough.

I’m thinking about your specific training and qualifications… If you help people out voluntarily, on stuff that has few or no deadlines, would that be enough to feel better about stuff? There should be less pressure if you’re doing this out of the goodness of your heart, and eventually you will have built up goodwill with people other than your parents.

A long time ago I was entitled to basic income benefits on the basis of being a single parent. I wasn’t actually single, and I hadn’t lied about that, but the government refused to see my partner as my partner (because she didn’t have a willy). So I filled in the forms stating what the situation was and got money that I wouldn’t have got if I had been heterosexual. Partly I wanted to make a point that this was ridiculous (I told everyone I was doing this and also that I would prefer to have my relationship choice recognised than take the money - after about eight years the law changed and I stopped claiming benefits,and for two or three of those years I really had been a single parent anyway).

Anyway, the point of this story is that I did loads of voluntary work because in my head that made it more OK to take the money from society. I don’t actually think people on benefits should be expected to do voluntary work, but in my case I could and I wanted to. For me it really helps me to cope with work if I can somehow separate the financial element off from what I am doing. If I can feel like I am doing this because I like it and because I am helping people, the anxiety about whether or not I am doing enough or doing it well enough is less.


Gosh people are great here. Thanks. :heart: I rant away about how you all don’t understand me and how my life is miserable and it’s all someone else’s fault and someone else’s responsibility and you just don’t get it and so on and you say, “We understand, we’re sorry, and maybe you can feel better this other way.” Wow, thanks people. Seriously. :slight_smile:
So yeah, it IS about emotional balance, and, I’ll really read and take your advice to heart. The walk? I do that already, most days. Will do it some more now. Other ideas? Let me mull them over.


I read all of the posts, which for me is somewhat difficult because of my ADHD [I avoid reading mostly due to having very poor short-term memory].

It’s difficult for me not to jump and trying to “fix” the problems of others. I’m a retired Social Worker (and that’s what I did for 40 years).

I’m new to this online community but I have very quickly found very nourishing for my ADHD soul.

I relate to the perpetual quandary that you find yourself in. While I was stressed out on a daily basis, I managed.

Rather than offer you many suggestions, I’ll just suggest a couple. First, keep on posting and I will keep on reading . . . Second, I have an an adult son about your age who in the past benefited greatly from having an ADHD coach. I suppose this community might provide some of that to you . . . But maybe somewhere out there you could connect with, and stick with a really good ADHD coach-type of professional. Not “therapy” but someone to support, “push” and know best when to do either Or neither, and just be there for you.

But as I see others have, I’ll try to be helpful to you. So stay connected and I’ll do the same.

Barry (in NJ . . . originally from Brooklyn, NY)


I love this community and I loved having an adhd coach. I’m signed off with her now, and that’s OK, but seeing her was definitely hugely effective, even more so than this community. We give each other good support and share good tips on here, but there was something about the accountability and the way it was a combination of her expertise and my feedback on what was working etc that made the coach amazing.

If you can get a coach as well you’ll be made!

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Thanks for these suggestions (and the rest of your posts). Am looking into it. I do have a talk-therapy counselor, a man (with whom I get along pretty durn well) who has a Ph.D. in psychology, knows lots (more than me!) about ADHD, and addresses that subject specifically with me. We’ve been meeting weekly (except for a few gaps) for a bit over a decade now! But he doesn’t market himself to the general public as an ADHD coach in specific, so, I’m not sure if my relationship with him fills the bill or not.


When I set out on my adhd diagnosis journey, I went to a practice specialising in adhd and autism. The support/treatment package that evolved was:

A therapist (psychologist) who worked with me on building up my self esteem, feeling comfortable in my own skin, that kind of thing.

A psychiatrist who helped me find the medication and dosage that seemed best to fit my needs.

An adhd coach who supported me in learning the difference between planning and planning realistically. She had concrete tips on how to get out of bed in the morning and basically nothing was too silly to discuss. (The therapist had already worked wonders by this point, helped by the community on this forum. Three years ago I would have been too crippled by shame to discuss not want ng to get out of bed.) She also talked me through understanding why my planning didn’t match reality, how to get it to match better, and how to recognise and deal with the consequences of not doing what I had planned. She was also a psychologist and had a PhD and had my full respect (they both did, both she and the therapist).

In the middle of this I was also able to take part in an 8-week ‘Self Image’ programme in a group of 10 people registered at the same practice, 9 with adhd and 1 with autism (shame for him to have a less good match but great for us that the balance was skewed in favour of Brains - and we were all different anyway so he did also get a lot out of it).

I don’t think I can say which single factor helped me the most. I have benefited hugely from the whole ‘package’ and consider myself incredibly lucky that my insurance paid for all of this. I had to pay an annual ‘excess’ of between 300 and 400 euros, but that is for all health care put together, so if I hadn’t paid it for this I would have had to pay it for the operation I had the same year anyway. So it was kind of ‘free’ even.

Anyway, the point of this post was to try to explain the role the adhd coach played in all this.

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Replying because I totally feel this! I have always felt like “I can’t do adult stuff”, like having a job, because it stresses me out and I need naps when I can’t just go take naps etc…
This year is my first year after I got my diagnosis and better help to move towards getting a job, so now I feel so much more hopeful on actually getting to a workplace where I can ‘be myself’, because now I know why I do things etc etc… but at the same time, I know that the only time in my life where I managed to ‘be adult and have a job’ was when I worked 24/7 and basically lived my life at my job… and that was something I totally could do way back then, but I don’t think I could do that anymore and I know it’s not healthy to do so…but with me it has always been “either everything or nothing”… So yeah… this year will be interesting for me haha xD


I’m bad at adulting. Yup, that’s me … young at heart … and at everything else. :slight_smile: