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ADHD & Laziness: The Need for Proper Motivation
Sometimes I get frustrated 😣 when I fail to do things right on time or cannot have the energy to at least initiate tasks as soon as I have the idea for it. The wasted opportunities and lost time ⏲️ can be a source of heartbreak, especially when it's something that I really want to do. I couldn't quite understand how my ADHD brain works and most of the time, I feel that I am working against it.
When I was still one of those people who feel lost and confused about how their brain functions, I always beat myself up and force myself to do things even if I don't want to 😢. I have so much energy to spend, but so little drive to continue pushing forward. Because I only force myself to do things, I tend to frequently experience burnout and end up getting people around me disappointed. The struggle with finding and sustaining motivation made me feel down and I started to question myself: what are the possible reasons behind it?
Don’t get me wrong, I know that neurotypicals also experience having low motivation. From time to time, they also get the feeling of not doing anything for the day. However, when people with ADHD lack the motivation to do anything, we are often labeled with negative things that can hurt our feelings. The trouble we run into when we put activities on hold because we don't have the proper desire or drive may make us seem lazy from other people's point of view 🥱. This makes me start having this question: Is it ADHD or Laziness?
An ADHD Diagnosis Helps
Suppose you already had your ADHD diagnosis and a mental health professional hands you the basic knowledge about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In that case, you may skip to the next part of this blog. Or, if you have plenty of time to read and are currently hyperfocused on learning more about this neurodivergent condition, you can also continue reading. But this section targets those who still haven't decided to have an appointment with their mental health doctor.
Hello, there! Just like you, I went through that phase when I didn’t understand what’s happening 😕. Because you don’t understand what’s going on, you feel like things work against every step you take, and even your brain doesn't accord with what you want.
The difficulty often starts when we are kept in the dark about what we are having trouble with. Some of you may be okay with not knowing what you are up against, but for many, it is important to have something to label their struggles with.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodivergent disorder that is characterized by problems with focus, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. It is a mental health condition that can also affect our executive functioning, making an impact on how we plan, organize and execute tasks. There are lots of ADHD symptoms that can make you struggle with your daily activities, such as making careless mistakes, difficulty paying attention, or having trouble finishing tasks 😞.
I had no idea about ADHD before I went to see my doctor. I was entirely clueless about this neurodivergent condition and all I know is that I was having a hard time with my interests and hobbies, and how I can't seem to focus on anything for a long time. After my diagnosis, I was relieved and also terrified at the same time. I was relieved because finally, I know what's making it hard for me, and terrified because there weren't as many available resources back then. At the end of the day, that diagnosis saved me, so to speak. Finally, I received the confirmation that my symptoms were NEVER intentional.
It’s like saying, yes, we might still commit careless errors because that is how we do things, but we can also start learning how to work with your Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The same goes for our motivation. It may seem like we are lazy, but we are not 👍. Our brains are really just wired differently.
In our journey to managing this neurodivergent condition, particularly in handling motivation, we might get discouraged a lot, feel like a failure often, or have trouble staying organized. Whatever happens, know that these are just how ADHD factors in 👌.
What is Laziness and Why is it Compared to ADHD?
We have discussed knowing the importance of having an ADHD diagnosis in order to understand how our brain works and how we can be affected by it. But still, we haven't talked about laziness in detail. Laziness, according to multiple definitions from the internet, is the lack of willingness to do something or having no effort at all to achieve a goal.
You may often hear your teachers or parents telling children "You really are smart, but you are lazy." or "If ever you are more diligent and more present on the things you do, you'll definitely achieve something." And I know it can be familiar to you because that is how some adults approached me, too. It is as if I have done nothing to be better or I haven't tried anything: all they see is someone who is being unwilling or not exerting effort at all 😭.
Many people who don't know how it feels like to have ADHD will often see the symptoms and think that we are just too lazy to do anything. It is easy for them to say that we need to focus more and pay attention, but what they don't understand is that we want to but we cannot.
The frequent behavior of idleness can be connected to a person's motivation, which, in itself, is a complex mechanism that isn't as clear as day and night. There are lots of other factors affecting our willingness to do something that need to be considered. To say that we are lazy doesn’t help our goal to manage our condition.
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The Wonderful World of Motivation
The urge to do something isn't simply dependent on whether we want to do them or not. For example, when we are working hard on a task, it does not automatically mean that we are into it or we like doing it. In fact, there are times when even if we do like certain activities, we still have a difficult time performing them.
This is where our motivation comes into the picture ✊. Our motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic, and it can affect how a person sees a task presented to them. Intrinsic motivation comes from within ourselves, it is when we do something because we want to or because we find enjoyment in doing them. Examples of activities that are often fuelled by our intrinsic motivation are hobbies, interests, and relationships ❣️.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from external factors, like rewards, fame, grades, approval from others, and so on. And many people with ADHD tend to get affected a lot by these. Come to think of it, how many times do we do things simply because they are a requirement for a job or school?
Comments from others can also influence our motivation. Let me tell you a story:
When I was a kid, I often did many things that interested me, like drawing illustrations or comic strips 🎨, to get my ideas into something more visual. When I was growing up, a person I knew gave an uncalled for opinion regarding my style. And since I wasn't diagnosed back then, I didn't have the proper understanding of ADHD. I got pretty emotional with their comments and felt rejected by how they viewed my works.
I admit, I seldom picked up my pen and drawing tablet since then, and it really saddens me because I used to love doing it. This event became one of the many reasons that hinder my intrinsic motivation, and it made me feel like I wasn't good enough or I didn't have the talent to do what I enjoy.
But that was back then when I had untreated ADHD. With proper management of my emotions and practice on accepting criticisms well, I slowly improved my craft 💗. Plus, I understand now where my hobbies and interests can lead me. If I have decided to ignore my symptoms and leave them untreated, I'll be an entirely different person right now.
Avolition and ADHD: What Could Be The Cause?
Being motivated by things we can get in return for doing something is not bad. These extrinsic motivations can be used as inspiration to get things done well. For instance, the monetary rewards, bragging rights, or the sense of accomplishment after completing a task can serve as great motivators.
However, things may be a little different when we talk about how we handle tasks for ourselves. Like doing the laundry or anything that only affects us. If the chores will only affect us, we may have a hard time initiating these activities. This is where other people may see us as lazy 🥱. Please know that in some cases, it’s not due to laziness. This may be caused by avolition, the total lack of motivation or willingness to do even the simplest of tasks, like paying your bills, cleaning, or preparing meals.
Avolition is not a new concept. It has been associated with other mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and persistent depressive disorder. Those who are struggling with such conditions tend to push away any thoughts of doing things or they may have difficulty completing tasks even if they know their lack of actions might have serious consequences 😨.
Compared with other mood disorders, ADHD is not often associated with avolition. If you have ADHD and suspect avolition, you must consult a healthcare professional right away as it’s possible that another mental health condition coexists with your ADHD 🧑⚕️.
Again, avolition is not characterized simply by low motivation; it points to the inability to initiate and persist in goal-directed activities.
Unlike what other people may think, we are not just lazy. It's hard to explain the feeling of being unable to do something even if you want to. The level of motivation may vary from person to person and from day to day. There are days when we don't feel like doing anything at all because the thought of starting something new gives us the feeling of not being able to complete it.
Getting Through Low Motivation and ADHD Symptoms
If you have read many entries on our website, you'll read here often that getting a diagnosis is crucial. Proper management of symptoms of ADHD can only be addressed if we have a full understanding of our neurodivergent disorder. Going to a professional 🏥 can help you understand more of what's going on with your brain and how you can address executive function struggles and having low motivation.
Mental health professionals 🧑⚕️ may give out different treatment courses to people with ADHD compared to people struggling with other disorders, like anxiety disorders or OCD. They have the expertise and intelligence to help us manage our executive dysfunction and the stress that comes with other symptoms that we experience. They may have to organize sessions with your therapist to help you talk about things that bother you and how to address them.
Another piece of advice is to have the right support and community that will acknowledge you for who you are, without any judgment. Having the correct set of people to talk about ADHD to can help you understand that you are never alone in this journey 🥰. Your support system can help you through different options on managing your symptoms. They can also introduce you to other information that can guide you through your treatment journey.
There are many things we want and hope to achieve in our lives, but it can be challenging when we have low motivation. It doesn't mean that we should give up on our dreams and goals. We have to understand that having ADHD is not a hindrance to success. We can still achieve what we want as long as we know how to manage our symptoms well and continuously find ways to better ourselves 💕.
ADHD and Laziness FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Does ADHD cause laziness?
No, ADHD does not cause laziness, and the latter is not an official symptom of this neurodivergent disorder. However, some symptoms might make it seem like an ADHD person is lazy.
What symptoms make it seem like someone with ADHD is lazy?
Several notable symptoms include being easily distracted, unable to focus, and forgetful. All these can affect when and how a person can do chores. Emotions can also play a role because hurtful comments might discourage people with ADHD to pursue something.
Is Avolition connected to ADHD?
Avolition or the total lack of willingness to do even the simplest of chores is not often connected to ADHD. It is, however, associated with other mental health conditions that can coexist with ADHD.